About the Book
Book: A Picture of Hope
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release date: October, 2021
A Photojournalist Risks Her Life to Save Children
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing pilots taking off and landing—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. She enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they come upon an orphanage where nuns shelter children with disabilities. Can they help save them before the Nazis come to liquidate it?
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A Picture of Hope was a great novel set in World War 2 exploring not only the kinds of women who were heroines in their own right. But it also deals with some of the glossed over gruesome facts of the Nazi regime, in this case, how cruel the Nazis were to anyone who had a disability or special needs. It is tragic what happened! However, this novel provides the story of a girl with Downs Syndrome, who through the kindness of strangers, survives and escapes to safety.
I was gripped from the very beginning of the novel and found myself getting anxious every time it seemed like something awful was going to happen, especially to young Claire who already had experienced so much tragedy in her life. I loved getting to know more about what life was like in Nazi-occupied France at the time. Although, I feel like love is the wrong word to use because of how terrible life was, especially those who refused to give their allegiance to Hitler.
I also liked getting to know the characters, I’ve already mentioned Claire, who I’d love to read about again to find out how she fares after World War 2. I also enjoyed getting to know Nellie, however, she did annoy me with some of her rash decisions that almost put others in danger. There were times it felt like she cared more about her career than helping others. However, I also liked Jean-Paul and how we see just how far he is willing to go to help those in need. I also appreciate how we see both characters struggle with the past, particularly with the men their fathers turned out to be, as well as why God allows so much suffering.
One of my favorite characters though has to be Sister Maria-Theresa and her wisdom and care, not only for the children she takes care and her fellow nuns, but also for both Nellie and Jean-Paul, who are both struggling with a lot of things.
There was a quote that stuck out to me while reading the book about suffering that is poignant and I wanted to share it in this review. It is something that Sister Raphael says to Nellie when she is questioning why God allows so much sin. She replies with the following:
“‘This suffering is meant to make our souls long for heaven. This world wearies us and weighs us down. Oh, but there is another world where we will never weary and where we will never long for anything better.'” (p.133)
Overall, I really enjoyed A Picture of Hope and getting to know more about the overlooked people of World War 2. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of historical fiction, particularly that set during World War 2. 4/5 Stars
*I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at http://www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.
More from Liz
Why Another WWII Novel Set in France
You may well read the back cover of my latest release, A Picture of Hope, and wonder why on earth we need another WWII novel set in France. After all, Kristy Cambron just had one. Melanie Dobson and Sarah Sundin will be coming out with theirs in 2022. So why did I feel the need to write my novel with the same setting?
First of all, I’m a Francophile. I love all things French. It started when I took French in high school. Everyone else was learning Spanish, but I wasn’t into being part of the crowd. There were only a few of us in the class, and it was great fun. We had a wonderful teacher. Being able to pull out some of that French, refine it a bit, and use it in the book was a blast. But I also love French food (who doesn’t?) and everything else.
Secondly, I hadn’t written about France before. When I wrote this proposal at least five or six years ago, I didn’t know France would be so hot. God did, and the book came about in His perfect timing. I’d explored the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Philippines. Such a shame that I was leaving out France, so I set about to write a novel located in that country.
Thirdly, there was so much good material to pull from. The French resistance, while small, did good work and sacrificed a great deal to get Jews out of the country and into Switzerland or Spain. The books that Kristy, Melanie, Sarah, and I write are all so different. Only the setting is the same. And when I found out that the famous mime Marcel Marceau was part of the resistance, I couldn’t help but giving him a cameo. Be on the lookout!
Along the way, I discovered some truly heartrending incidents that took place in France. They also compelled me to write this book. I long for the world to remember what happened so that we will never forget. And so that the atrocities committed there will never be repeated.
Fourthly, this was originally the third book in a series. Don’t worry – it’s a stand-alone. Maybe someday I’ll get to publish the other two. The women in the series are all American journalists in Europe. One is a reporter, the other is a broadcaster, and so I decided to make Nellie, the heroine in A Picture of Hope, a photojournalist. And where better to take pictures than on Omaha Beach soon after D-day. How she gets there is based on a very interesting true story, so be sure to read to the end for that one.
There are so many stories about WWII to be told and so many countries that participated in the conflict in one way or the other. The ground is so rich that we aren’t plowing the same parcel. You’ll find all of these books to be very different from each other, each with its own message, its own voice, and its own plot.
The focus in my book is on children with Down syndrome. I have a background in special education, and my husband and I adopted a child from the Philippines with an intellectual disability, so I’ve always had a heart for people with special needs. My daughter brings us so much joy that I wanted to share a glimpse into what these remarkable people are truly capable of.
So that is why I wrote a WWII novel set in France. Make yourself a cup of café au lait, butter up a croissant, and enjoy A Picture of Hope!
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To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of A Picture of Hope!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.