World War Fiction Books
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My favorite WW2 Fiction Books

World War fiction is one of my favorite genres, especially if I’m looking for something with a bit more depth than my usual thriller, romance, and fantasy fare. Of course, there are a few books that stand out in the legion I’ve read about the horrors of the Holocaust, so I thought I’d share my favorite WW2 fiction books with you today.

As always, this list is in no particular order and I would recommend every book on this list without hesitation.

WW2 Fiction

1. Two Brothers by Ben Elton

I lied. This list is in some semblance of an order. Meaning… this is number 1 for a reason. After this, the numbering doesn’t count, but there is a reason Two Brothers made my Must Read Book List.

Based on my adoration of this novel, I went out and tried a few of Elton’s other works, and while they were good, I wasn’t a huge fan. Two Brothers just stole my heart.

It’s 1920 and two babies are born. Raised as twins, they are brothers in all, but blood. Years later, the Nazi armageddon begins and the brothers are faced with an impossible choice. For brothers they may be, but for one vital difference. One is a German, the other is a Jew.

2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A Reese’s Book Club Pick for a reason, The Nightingale is one of those books that grabs you by the heartstrings and doesn’t let you go.

Kristin Hannah explores the bravery of the women who chose to defy the Nazis rather than obey them during WWII. In a ravaged, war-torn France, two sisters make very different choices, with remarkable outcomes.

3. The Golden Mile by John Sherlock

I can’t even direct you to Kindle here because this book is so old, but phew, it holds so many memories! The battered paperback lived on my mother’s limited bookshelf and, as a teen, I read it over and over, never getting bored. I have tried for years to get hold of a copy (it’s not available on Kindle) but to no avail. The second-hand copies for sale on Amazon don’t ship to me, so I despair of ever finding it again. I wonder if it would be a letdown reading it now… but I digress!

The Golden Mile begins with Janna Maxwell, a woman wealthy in cash and secrets. (I realize now that was a lame line, but I’m going to roll with it.) In search of her biological father, Janna’s journey takes us down the rabbit hole of a Warsaw ghetto, and the three remarkable women who spirited her to safety during WW2.

If ever you get your hands on this book, read it! And think of me.

4. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

A life-changing tale of hope from the Holocaust by a highly intelligent man. Frankl was an Austrian psychologist and neurologist who founded Logotherapy after surviving the holocaust. A great philosopher, he believed that the search for meaning in our lives is mankind’s driving force.

The first half of the book details Viktor’s time spent in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. The second half is a deep dive into the reason why some people survived and others didn’t. It is a gem of a book, small but powerful, and a study into the power of hope.

5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

This book made me so very sad, but was so beautifully and hauntingly told that I snatched up the sequel, Cilka’s Journey the second I finished it. I haven’t read Three Sisters yet, but only because I didn’t know it existed until writing this article.

6. The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

Though not as popular as Beneath a Scarlet Sky, also by Mark Sullivan, but for some reason I read this one first. The Last Green Valley had me losing my breath within the first few pages, and the tension just kept rising. It’s impossible to truly comprehend the torments that people endured during the Second World War, but this book paints a picture as vivid as it gets. It follows the Martels (a Ukranian family of German descent) as they try to escape the Soviets. To do so, however, they must align with the Nazis who, despite their murderous actions, have sworn to protect pure-blooded Germans.

7. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I know this book has come under fire in recent years, but it still makes my list because while the topic is WW2, I specifically made mention of fiction. The Boy in The Striped Pajamas is one of those rare books that has stayed with me. The details haven’t faded over time, or blurred with another comparable novel. Ironically, I never purchased it for myself, despite the frequent pitching by one of the saleswomen at my local Bargain Books, a confessed Boyne fan.

Instead, this little gem came into my possession when it was listed as a set work for my daughter in her grade 9 year. Once she had read it and completed her grade 9 coursework, it ended up on the bookshelf in my office, where it sat for over a year, gathering dust. I still can’t recall why I picked it up one lazy February afternoon, but I’m so grateful that I did. I read it in one sitting, and yes… it was one of the few books that made me cry.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a poignant reminder of the innocence of youth, and how protected children are from the awful things happening around them. Even at nine years old, Bruno has an almost ignorant naivete about him that makes this book that much sadder to read.

The ending destroyed me because while it was nothing less than Ralf deserved, it is never okay for children to pay the price for their parents’ sins.

A completely new perspective on “Out with” and well worth the read.

And that concludes my WWII fiction list. I’m sure you’ve read most of these, but are any still on your TBR? If so, bump them!

Until next time, read hard.

MD x

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