I do love it when reading one book leads so naturally on to another, when it opens up your eyes to a story, a theme, a genre or perhaps a time in history that sparks your imagination and builds a hunger to dive in deeper.
This is exactly what happened for me when reading Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. In one respect it is a lovely read of a skilfully written novel, with the story alternating between a daughter searching into her hidden personal history, too traumatic for her recently deceased mother to have shared during her lifetime; and then the details of that mother’s war time story, her involvement in the personal struggles to protect persecuted Jewish families inside wartime Germany and finally resulting in time in a Concentration Camp.
But in another respect, it is such a difficult read, with details of the horrors of war, that are not pleasant reading, brought to life when applied to a personal story. And the realisation that for many people the war did not end in 1945, but the consequences and traumas lasted for generations.
The book is set a good pace, allowing the story to progress quickly over the long time line, but also offering time to reflect on the horrors that are unravelling. The concentration camp chapters expose the reader to the works and life of Corrie ten Boom. So it was an obvious follow on, to then read her book, The Hiding Place.
Corrie ten Boom was a truly inspirational woman. Many in her situation would likely have succumbed, but she had a quiet and humble determination, and a clarity of faith that is enviable.
Sadly, when reading about the concentration camps, it is too easy to move from fiction to non-fiction. Either way, you have a hope that this could never have happened and you are equally horrified when you know that it did. Her experiences are shocking, even when presented in her quite a matter-of-fact style. But this is her humility and faith working through, so deep and so pure.
Thank you Cathy for writing your story, and through it opening up the story of Corrie ten Boom, to reveal the inspiration and witness that she has been.