Helena by Jo-anne Berthelsen (Ark House, 2006) is the story of a 20 year old music student whose family lived near Prague, shortly before World War II. Although a fictional account it is based on a true story and gives many insights into the personal difficulties faced by those whose countries were caught up in war. Historically it is enlightening to read how the political decisions and trials of the war impacted the daily lives of the Czech people, as well as the resulting problems after the war.
It is a very moving story as Helena meets and marries Stefan to have their lives forever disrupted by the war. I enjoyed the way music was weaved into the story to express deep feelings. I also found it encouraging to read of their faith in God despite the loss of family and friends. For Helena the losses went even deeper as she lost her career and her family’s inheritance. The pain of these events is not whitewashed but dealt with in a realistic, though heart wrenching manner. While the book might contain a little too much description for my liking it is nevertheless a great story which provides hope for the future whatever we may be called to face.
Jo-anne Berthelsen has been a pastor with Australian Churches of Christ (which is different to US Churches of Christ). I wrote a longer book review for the Australian Christian which is the online subscription journal of Churches of Christ in Australia. They would like me to include a link which is here.
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