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Chapter 9 - Code Name Sapphire

Once in a while I'll find an author who writes consistently engaging stories. For me this includes authors like Taylor Jenkins Reid, Pat Conroy, Melanie Benjamin, and Marie Benedict. I know that any book I pick up from these authors will be satisfying. Lately I've added another name to that list - Pam Jenoff.

Pam Jenoff is a highly educated (George Washington University, Cambridge, and University of Pennsylvania for her JD) historical fiction writer. Her books center primarily around World War II and women protagonists facing difficult circumstances. She has worked at the Pentagon and in her work in the State Department she was transferred to Krakow, Poland where she developed close relations with the Holocaust surviving members of the Jewish community there. Most of her books are based on true stories. To go deeper into her biography would be more than I want to detail here but you can read about her at

Here are some of her books which I have particularly enjoyed and a new one on my TBR pile.

The Orphan's Tale - A young woman whose baby was taken in Nazi Germany steals one from a train bound for the camps. She finds refuge with a German circus and forms bonds with Astrid, one of the aerialists. This is a terrific tale of friendship and bravery in a difficult time.

The Lost Girls of Paris - In 1946 Grace Healey passes through Grand Central Station and finds an abandoned briefcase with photos of twelve women inside. As Grace digs trying to find the owner, she learns that these women have all been part of the Special Operations Executive, a group sent into France to deter the German war effort there.

The Woman With the Blue Star - A young Jewish girl and her mother live in the tunnels of Krakow as the Nazis are liquidating the ghetto. She is aided by a Polish girl whose stepmother has close ties to the invading Germans. The girls' friendship grows as they dangerously fight the Germans the only way they can.

The Kommandant's Girl - A young woman narrowly escapes Krakow and goes to Warsaw where she masquerades as a gentile. Soon she is hired to work for a German officer whose interest in her is more than as a secretary. How much will she do to provide information to a resistance group that includes her husband as one of its members?

Code Name Sapphire - Jenoff's latest which is on my TBR pile is another World War II story, of course. In it, a Jewish woman's ship to America is turned away at port and she goes to Brussels where her cousin's family takes her in. Hannah once again becomes part of the resistance but this time she is trying to save her family from transport to Auschwitz.

In her time in Poland, Pam Jenoff heard many stories of heartbreak and survival. In her books she tries to tell some of them. Have you read any of her books?


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