At its core, For Such a Time is a love story. But the intricate story-weaving done by Kate Breslin absolutely took my breath away! Breslin takes a most beloved story from the Bible — the story of Esther — and sets it in Nazi Europe during 1944. Hadassah’s Aryan-like looks allow her to create a false identity, Stella Muller. After being swept from Dachau by the Kommandant of the Theresienstadt transit camp, she works as his secretary. Over time, and through the help of special friends, Stella petitions her employer on behalf of her people. The result is exhilarating and frightful, and Stella is forced to make an enormous sacrifice.
I don’t have space to catalog in full the myriad accolades Breslin deserves, so I will limit my praise to three areas. First, she delivers a beautifully orchestrated plot with plenty of twists and unexpected turns. But the reader never feels whiplashed; one simply feels validated in her inability to close the book to cook dinner, walk the dog . . . or even sleep. (True story.)
Second, her character development is deliberate and thoughtful. In a novel of this length, an author’s tendency might be to pepper unnecessary characters throughout the pages to add complexity, but that is not the case here. Each character you meet is meaningful in some way, ultimately playing an integral part in the novel’s denouement.
Third, and what I appreciate most about Breslin’s writing, is her succinct, decisive descriptions that tease the mind into exploring the scene she’s set. She uses (and needs) every line of the 418 pages to tell this complex and riveting story, and I still felt grief at having to close the book! Secretly I hope that her second novel is the sequel to For Such a Time, a further exploration of Hadassah’s future.
Theologically, Breslin massages the role of God’s sovereignty in an event the magnitude of the Holocaust. The themes of pain and suffering, love and loss, one’s ability to overcome adversity through His strength, and the joy found in true freedom echo through the storyline. As is natural to this particular setting, there is a focus on the equality of all people under God. It is my opinion that Breslin handles each of these concepts with delicacy and maturity.
Due to a bit of clean romance sprinkled through the pages, I recommend this book for adult women. Without a single reservation, I give this book five stars. The bottom line is this: You will not regret reading this fantastic piece of writing! Kudos to Kate Breslin on a tremendous debut!
In exchange for my honest opinion, Bethany House supplied a free copy of this novel for my review.