Book Review: The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

About the Book:

The Violinist of Auschwitz

Auschwitz, 1943: In the depths of hell, can hope rise? And can love triumph over hatred?

Based on the unforgettable true story of Alma Rosé, The Violinist of Auschwitz brings to life one of history’s most fearless, inspiring and courageous heroines. Alma’s bravery saved countless lives, bringing hope to those who had forgotten its meaning…

In Auschwitz, every day is a fight for survival. Alma is inmate 50381, the number tattooed on her skin in pale blue ink. She is cooped up with thousands of others, torn from loved ones, trapped in a maze of barbed wire. Every day people disappear, never to be seen again.

This tragic reality couldn’t be further from Alma’s previous life. An esteemed violinist, her performances left her audiences spellbound. But when the Nazis descend on Europe, none of that can save her…

When the head of the women’s camp appoints Alma as the conductor of the orchestra, performing for prisoners trudging to work as well as the highest-ranking Nazis, Alma refuses: “they can kill me but they won’t make me play”. Yet she soon realizes the power this position offers: she can provide starving girls with extra rations and save many from the clutches of death.

This is how Alma meets Miklos, a talented pianist. Surrounded by despair, they find happiness in joint rehearsals, secret notes, and concerts they give side by side––all the while praying that this will one day end. But in Auschwitz, the very air is tainted with loss, and tragedy is the only certainty… In such a hopeless place, can their love survive?

This devastatingly heartbreaking yet beautifully hopeful tale proves that even in the darkest of days, love can prevail––and give you something to live for. Fans of The Choice, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Orphan Train will lose their hearts to this magnificent tale.

My Thoughts:

The Violinist of Auschwitz is based on the real life story of Alma Rosé, an esteemed violinist before her world came crashing down as she was brought to the camp at Auschwitz. Alma was indeed a very strong woman, who made it her mission to save as many lives as she could while building an orchestra in the midst of all the sorrow. Bringing even a small amount of joy or hope to the people around her made her happier. Learning to navigate the camp, Alma uses her talent to gain favour with the camp officials, cementing a place for her girls and ensuring their safety.

In addition to finding people around her, she finds love in Miklos, a talented pianist thus finding some happiness in the midst of it all. Alma’s music, described as spell-binding and known to make even the most rigid person emote, made her indispensable in the heart of the camp. Alma’s legacy continues on through her story, her music and love and all the girls she saved.

This story is a highly emotional read, the reality of the concentration camp and the people both in it and who ran it was difficult to read about. However, the author has done a wonderful job detailing the Auschwitz concentration camp and she doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is, right from the experiments run on the people to the gas chambers themselves. Ellie Midwood is a brilliant story teller and she brings Alma’s story to life just like Alma brought music to life. This story is spell-binding, heart-wrenching, filled with so much hatred and even love, that it will remain with the reader even after finishing the book.

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