Review of Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke


Genre: Historical Romance


This is one of the most interesting Holocaust novels I have read, focusing on the variations of insider German attitudes from August of 1939 through the summer of 1940 with a post-war epilogue.

Rachel Kramer is the daughter of a prominent (fictitious) American doctor of eugenics, who works closely with the infamous German Drs. Mengele and Verschuer. As she accompanies her father on a business trip, she is shocked to discover–largely through an American journalist–the implications of her father’s research, and the personal web of heartache and disillusionment it has created within her own family. When her childhood friend comes to her for help in rescuing her deaf daughter Amelie from certain death due to the scourge she is upon her SS father’s Aryan bloodline, Rachel chooses to leave her life of privilege to go into hiding with the child, eventually finding shelter in the Bavarian village of Oberammergau, famous for its Passion Play.

The Christian theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and his message of the cost of grace, also plays a substantial secondary role as the characters determine for themselves who they are, what they believe, and how they should live in response to the increasingly difficult circumstances.

There are quite a few monumental transitions within the story, which at times made the novel feel long-winded, or like a trilogy wrapped into one. I was caught up in the characters, and the thoughts the story-line provoked within myself, yet also felt emotionally and intellectually pulled to shift my emotional response as the narrative went along. There could have been more cohesion within the emotional and spiritual motifs to tie the whole together as the beginning and ending felt like completely different pieces despite the natural flow of the plot-line in between. Nonetheless, this was an enjoyable and fascinating glimpse into this time-period, and a call to evaluate our modern culture in order to avert similar potential atrocities.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.