The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

Book - 2003
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A poignant and suspenseful retelling of a classic fairy tale set in a war-torn world, for readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz , We Were the Lucky Ones , and Lilac Girls

In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel." They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called a "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children. Louise Murphy's haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2003.
ISBN: 9780142003077
Characteristics: 297, 12 p. ; 21 cm.


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Apr 20, 2021

WWII books about civilians doing what they can to survive are a safe bet for me at any time. But this entirely-realistic retelling of Hansel and Gretel is truly something special. It remains true to the time but turns the fairy tale on its head.

Sep 16, 2018

4.25 stars. I have read a LOT of WWII stories but none quite like this. It is riveting but very harrowing and more graphic than most. It leaves you reeling as to what humans are capable of both in survival and in cruelty. The senseless bloodlust of the Nazi regime is depicted explicitly in this story so be warned. That said, understanding the horrors of war is important because despite being historical fiction, much of it is based on the author's research of true events.

Jan 27, 2014

A fascinating story of two abandoned Jewish children who take refuge in the hut of an old woman living in the woods - impacting in unforeseen ways the lives of the nearby villagers - is juxtaposed with the story of the children's father and step-mother who have escaped the Nazi's and are barely surviving in the forest, fighting with the resistance. Stark and brutal, an honest retelling of life in rural war-torn Poland 1943-45, with many painful details of Nazi cruelty. Framing that story on the tale of 'Hansel and Gretel' makes for an intriguing perspective; the children are especially well drawn, as is the old woman.

Feb 12, 2011

This is a great version of the story, Hansel and Gretel. It is very much like the original story, but in a different and more dangerous world. Both Hansel and Gretel are Jewish children in World War II, and they both are alone in the world. They meet this person who is known as a witch, but she is actually someone who protects them. The two kids must run and hide and fight their way around the Nazis as they try to get back to their parents.
This is a great book for anyone who needs a book to surprise them, or anyone who no longer believes in fairy tales.

Sep 10, 2010

This is a heartbreakingly beautiful book. I found it to be incredibly engaging, with characters that I truly cared about.

Jul 28, 2010

Really wonderful take on WWII with a dark, fairytale overlay.


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