In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.
Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?
Just when you think you have read every kind of retelling of the story of Esther, debut novelist Kate Breslin comes along and turns that little theory on its head! In a stunning novel, all the more brilliant given this is her first novel, Kate Breslin has woven a story of excruciating emotions, visceral imagery, and spiritual depth in For Such a Time. Her characterisation is impeccable, from Stella’s gut wrenching fear and loneliness to Aric’s trained cruelty that is gutting him from the inside out, to her uncle’s determination and a young Jewish boy’s hope. Thankfully, Kate does not shy away from the realities of war and the Nazi atrocities, nor does she fall into the trap of making Aric a nice but misguided man. I was nothing less than enthralled with this story in every way – the mirrored images of the Biblical story, the authentic conflict growing in Aric’s heart, Stella’s hard found courage, and a love story that kept me riveted to the page. For Such a Time ensures I will get my hands on any future novel from this talented author whose prose and layered story telling is second to none.
With thanks to Bethany House for my review copy