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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Red Ribbon @historywardrobe @HotKeyBooks

About The Rec Ribbon

Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might all have been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

For fans of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients.

Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz, as readers may recognise it. Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive? Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud - a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.

My review of The Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon is a YA novel like no other I have ever read. This book is a poignant and gripping read about the realities of life during the Holocaust. This is an important story and one which is highly emotive. due to the subject matter.

I wasn't too sure about what to expect from this book. Although set during the horrors of the Holocaust, this story predominantly revolves around the four female central characters, Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla, in the telling of Ella's story, and this in turn reinforces the human emotions of that era, of how the Holocaust affected those living and working within Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

This book was a real eye opener. I never knew that women were held captive, enslaved to make dresses. This is also why the novel works very well as a YA read. The sense of what is happening and the suffering tied to those atrocities is clearly evident between the lines, but the book does not go into the full details of the horrors of war. As I said, this novel is very much about the human emotions of the women and girls who were part of the camp community.

Ella is at the heart of this story. She is only fourteen- years-old and we start the book as she begins her first day at 'Birchwood' the real Auschwitz-Birkenau, within the tailoring studio. I read with fascination as there would have been a girl like Ella working at the camp, and this made the story so visceral for me. It caught my breath as I read the unfolding words. The motions of making a dress from the finest silk was not so much about creating a dress for the enemy, but rather about survival, and this is the absolute crux of this book. Learning to survive, making the most of what you have and being kind in the most difficult of circumstances.

The human aspect of this novel is its driving force. I read to revel in the human reactions, the relationships that were formed because they had to, not out of choice, and of how beauty could be present during times of great evil. This is a morality read, as what would you do under the circumstances to survive? That is the big question that is asked here.

The Red Ribbon is an uplifting story, one of hope and of how women are stronger together than being alone. This is a remarkable book and one that is of huge importance to this moment in our history.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

The Red Ribbon is published by Hot Key Books on 21 September. It can be found on Amazon here.

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