Title: A View Across The Rooftops
Author: Suzanne Kelman
I was absolutely thrilled to join the Blog Tour for this book. I love Historical Fiction so I couldn’t wait to get started.
1941 Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.
University professor Josef Held has never recovered from the loss of his beloved wife – and has no intention of ever letting anyone new into his quiet, safe world. It is a world where the clock ticks steadily in his mathematics classroom, even as the sinister beat of Nazi soldiers’ boots threaten to drown it out. Terrified, Josef tries to keep his eyes on the ground as Jews across the city are forced into ghettos. But then, Michael Blum, his most reluctant, infuriating pupil, tell Josef Jews like him will no longer allowed to study at all. Josef can no longer ignore the situation. And, after the shock of seeing his own neighbour killed on his doorstep, he offer Michael a place to hide in an impulsive act of courage. Michael is everything Josef is not: spontaneous, poetic and unafraid of love. Even though his passionate relationship with a Dutch girl is strictly forbidden- for he is Jewish, she is not. Somehow- in the quiet gloom of the attic, Josef doesn’t mind things about Michael that annoyed him in the classroom, and a bond begins to grow. Remembering the pain of his own heartbreak, Josef is desperate to give Michael and his girlfriend a chance. He must go on as if nothing has changed: teaching his classes, bowing to the Nazis. Beneath the fear, a thrill of defiance begins to bloom. But then Michael becomes perilously ill, and there is no way to get him the help he desperately needs. As the dark days of war continue, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted. If Michael is to survive and get back to the women he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive. Even if it means putting his own life on the line.
I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. I’m trying to think of a better historical fiction novel I’ve read of this kind this year, and I can’t. It really was historical fiction at its finest.
I liked the fact that this book had a different perspective on the war. It’s the first book I’ve read, of the Nazi occupation in set in Amsterdam, so that added a different element to the book and kept it fresh. I was immediately immersed in the story. And I didn’t leave it until the last page.
This book had fantastic characters. They’re all so beautiful written. Josef, who is the main character, is so complex. You can really feel his internal struggle, with wanting to help and wanting to be safe. It was one of the joys of the book to watch his character open up. To see him help Michael is wonderful. For me, it’s the foundation of this book. The bond they form is so special and heartwarming, in this brutal time in history, is probably my favourite thing about this book.
This book also has some wonderful secondary characters, who have some great storylines. Hannah, who joins the resistance and helps fight. Michaels girlfriend, who never gives up on him. And Ingrid, who is a Nazi sympathiser. A have to give a special shoutout to the arc of Ingrid’s story because it had a twist I didn’t see coming and I end up caring for her. It’s brilliant writing. With all these perspectives, you’d think I’d hate one, but no.
The romance between Michael and his girlfriend is so lovely. I couldn’t read this book fast enough to see if they became reunited. The ending! Oh my god the ending of their story. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but I wept like a baby. I just didn’t see it coming. It was one of those moments in a book where you just pause. I was so shocked. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
It’s abundantly clear this book has been meticulously researched. It had to be, with so many perspectives being told. It was filled with just the right amount of detail to make it accurate, but never to get bogged down and lose the story.
This is just one of those books that has a tremendous amount of heart. It’s all down the brilliant writing of Suzanne Kelman, who’s managed to create wonderful, real characters and put them in a harrowing time in history. When I finished this book I was hopeful and my heart was full. It’s such a fantastic story.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It comes out 25th October. Check it out.
Until the next review