There, on the dusty floorboards, was a piece of paper, folded neatly. A newspaper article from 1941, written in German, alongside a faded picture of two men in Nazi uniforms staring at the camera. I was about to place it back in the box of forgotten things when something in the text jumped out at me. My breath caught in my chest. I know that name.
London, present day. Isla has grown up hearing her beloved grandad’s stories about his life as a child in pre-war Poland and as a young soldier bravely fighting the Germans to protect his people. So she is shocked and heartbroken to find, while collecting photos for his 95th birthday celebration, a picture of her dear grandfather wearing a Nazi uniform. Is everything she thought she knew about him a lie?
Unable to question him due to his advanced dementia, Isla wraps herself in her rainbow-coloured scarf, a memento of his from the war, and begins to hunt for the truth behind the photograph. What she uncovers is more shocking than she could have ever anticipated – a tale of childhood sweethearts torn apart by family duty, and how one young man risked his life, his love and the respect of his own people, to secretly fight for justice from inside the heart of the enemy itself…
An heartbreaking novel of love, betrayal and a secret passed down through a family. Inspired by an incredible true story. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, We Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.
I am a sucker for historical fiction books, especially ones centered around World War II stories. The Rainbow by Carly Schabowski. What made this particular all the more unforgettable is because it was drawn from stories from Schabowski’s own family.
Isla loves her grandfather dearly, but dementia is slowly taking him away from her. Isla grew up with stories from her grandfather both growing up in Poland and during WWII where he bravely fought the nazi’s. But, while looking for pictures in the attic of her grandparents home, Isla comes across a rainbow scarf and a picture of someone in a nazi uniform. This someone who looks a lot like her grandfather. Isla’s grandmother is adamant it is not her grandfather but Isla does not believe it and while still curious to know, she knows she can’t ask her grandfather either. Here begins Isla’s quest to find out the meaning behind the picture as well as working through her own emotions of wondering if her grandfather really is the same good and honorable man she has always loved.
Schabowski really writes with such honesty and passion and each chapter of this story takes you deeper and deeper into the lives of its characters and the stories they have to share brings out so much emotion and so much heartbreak. Thomasz, Isla’s grandfather, is a hero, but he is also real with flaws and regrets. We come to know Thomasz when he was a young boy at ten years old, friendships that he has made – especially with Kapaldi, a gypsy and owner of the rainbow scarf. Their story really hits you hard and it is raw and moving. There is just so much that Schabowski brings to this story, so many wonderful passages that make you sit back and think. I can honestly say that Carly Schabowski is now on my radar and I am going to have to comb through her back books and buy all of them to read.
The Rainbow is an engrossing story that will leave you sobbing and emotional all the way through. What a great read!