The debut novel The Butterfly and the Violin (“Hidden Masterpiece” series #1) by Kristy Cambron uncovers the story behind a painting of a young German girl during the Holocaust. It does this both through the eyes of Adele, the girl in Auschwitz, and through the story of a contemporary art gallery owner, Sera, searching for the painting.
In the world of reading, it’s common to come across stories told through multiple points of view, usually the viewpoints of 2-3 main characters. Sometimes a secondary character gets some story time, too. Rarely do you come across a story with more than one main character who lives in a different era. I can only think of one other book I’ve read (Karen Kingsbury’s Even Now) that features characters in different eras – – even that one could be considered “contemporary only”. This one by Kristy, though, is skillfully set in two eras — two genres, even — both contemporary and historical.
“Today.” Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.
“Vienna, 1942.” Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family’s tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.
The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?
As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait–Adele–they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.
This is a moving, beautiful, and at times, gripping story. The perfectly balanced historical and contemporary settings serve to weave together the story of Adele with Sera and William’s, both building to the conclusion of Adele’s story piece by piece. Sera and William’s professional — and potentially romantic– relationship has its twists and turns as each of their characters learn important lessons about trust, responsibility, and God’s call. Against those very relevant struggles, the horrors of the holocaust period still serve as a contrast at times, exploring the strength that only God can provide. With some “flashback” moments for Adele, the reader learns of her friendship and love story with orchestra member Vladimir. The reader eagerly anticipates both the fate of Adele and what has become of Vladimir during her time there.
The beauty of the art world and classical music is an uncommon treat in a novel. Kristy uses it to add interest and a poetic element as well as being a symbol of worship amidst chaos. The art is also used to tie the present with the past, in a mystery unknown to Sera and William for much of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this debut from Kristy. I look forward to her next release in the “Hidden Masterpiece” series, A Sparrow in Terezin, releasing in April 2015. Reading this story was a very unique experience (after all, I love a good historical or contemporary – this was the best of both!). With a great plot full of accurate historical details, it left me considering the goodness and provision of God, even through circumstances we may not understand.
Note: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Thank you to BookLook and the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read any books with characters set jn different eras? What was it?