Genre: Historical Romance
For Such a Time is a unique retelling of Esther based during the Holocaust. Hadassah Benjamin (hiding under false paperwork as Stella Muller) is rescued from a shooting line and finds herself in the odd position of working as a secretary for SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt while her fellow Jews (including her uncle Morty) endure the harsh conditions of the Czechoslovakian transit camp, Theresienstadt, that borders her new “home.” Worse, her people are progressively being transported to Auschwitz, and she is ordered to type up the lists of names finalizing their transportation and certain death–all while hiding her true identity, struggling with her faith, and feeling that God has abandoned them.
I enjoy how this narrative finds freedom in expressing the heart of the Esther story outside of its traditional setting. The events, especially in the climax and finale, unravel creatively, so as to bring fresh insight to the original.
There is a bit of awkwardness surrounding the romance between Stella and Herr Kommandant–but perhaps this was true of Esther and the Persian King as well within their married relationship? I would have liked more attention to have been given to Aric’s faith and feelings, which were alluded to on many occasions, but never explored to the extent of Hadassah’s. I also felt there was too much emphasis placed on Stella as the savior of her people (rather than an emphasis on the recognition of God at work); and also too quick of a spiritual spiritual resolution for Stella’s own question of faith.
That said, the book does well at its intentions to entertain, bring freshness to a beloved biblical account, and to reveal and remember the horrors of the Holocaust and God’s faithful presence even in our most difficult hours. This is also a wonderful debut novel to start off Breslin’s endeavor into historical fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House.