Although I have enjoyed a number of Jackie French books over the years, I haven’t thought of her writing as being particularly elegant or sparkling. I usually consider her writing to be more prosaic and deliberate than beautiful.
She writes marvelous historical fiction for children, but there are times when you can see her formula at work.
However, Pennies for Hitler has proven to be a cut above the rest.
The story of young Georg fleeing Germany alone, in fear of his life just as WW2 is about to start, is engrossing and at times, almost poetic.
I give you pg 110 “Crashes shook the air – different crashes now, not the dull roar of bombs but long slow crumbles as buildings stopped trying to stand up.”
and pg 147 “and that too high, too blue sky was new as well. A tiny cloud was creeping into it now, looking timid against all that blue.“
pg 252 “The war dragged on, dragging the year with it“.
Pennies for Hitler is a fine example of Jackie French at her best. This is not a sequel to Hitler’s Daughter. It’s more of a companion novel. The only link is WW2 and the themes of identity, war and loss.
It′s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils′ heads to see which of them have the most ′Aryan′- shaped heads. But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive.
Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too.