In 1944, blonde 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?
This debut novel by Kate Breslin is a dramatic retelling of the Biblical story of Esther, but set during a time that will be well known to all readers. The roles of Esther and her king, as well as Mordecai and Haman, are easily recognizable in their 20th century counterparts. Some are likable, and some are just downright slimy! A verse from Esther is used at the start of each chapter, and gives an indication of what will take place in the following pages. The verses aren’t in order, however, which I felt dulled their impact.
For Such a Time is a novel filled with tension as it edges towards the intense conclusion. Will Stella’s true identity be discovered? Will those she loves survive or be sent to Auschwitz? The last section of the book is an action-packed drama that I could imagine being played out on the big screen. Knowing the story of Esther and also the fate of many camp commandants, I did wonder how this novel could end. Despite the love story between Stella/Hadassah and Aric, would the practicalities of history get in the way? Breslin avoids this problem by ending the novel before the end of the war and therefore gives romantics a satisfactory conclusion.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of For Such a Time, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read For Such a Time? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 01 April 2014
Page Count: 432