New Book – The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh


Publishing year: 2013

This is the story of Rachel.

It starts in 1943 as her family are transported to Auschwitz. The descriptions of the horrible conditions the people on the wagons had to suffer are horrifying: dozens of people crammed together, lack of hygiene and air, the stench of the bodies, the vermin, and the dead bodies of those who have been unable to endure the situation. Rachel is one of the poor people in those conditions. She is with her parents, her elder sister Sarah, and her younger sister. When they reach Auschwitz, the family are separated. Sarah and Rachel remain together whereas their father, mother, and their little sister go to another line. We also know there is a brother, Luc, but he was not in the house when the Germans arrested the rest of the family.

Three months later Rachel and Sarah haven’t seen their parents and sister again, so Rachel surmises they are dead. Rachel plays the violin, so in the camp she is now part of the orchestra that plays for the Nazi functions, and she is also teaching the Commander’s children music. That gives her some privileges: she is allowed to grow her hair again, and she can wear a scarf the family has given her. Her sister Sarah works in what is called Canada in the camp, the part where the stores and warehouses are. That means she has to walk five kilometres each way, and work eleven hours non-stop and with little food in her stomach.

Now Rachel explains that things are about to change with the appearance of another Nazi authority, someone called Von Schleigel. The man is horrible, scorning and looking down on Rachel.

This is an emotional and hard account. Stories about what happened in Auschwitz and other concentration camps are horrifying, and it pulls at your heart strings as you know that even though it is fiction, you know that it did happen to real people. What a horrible part of the world’s history!


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