The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson follows two sisters as they, “use their love of opera in a daring plan” to help Jews escape Germany just before World War II. Because these sisters love the opera, they travel to visit opera houses and are very involved in the music community.
As they see what is going on in Germany, it becomes clear to the sisters that Jewish people need to escape Germany. Using Ida’s money that she is earning as a writer and with some help from their friends, Ida and Louise are able to help 29 Jews escape Germany just as danger begins to set in.
Although the story of these two sisters is fascinating, the book is a bit hard to follow. You can tell the author loves WWII and really did her research, but sometimes she breaks away from the story of Ida and Louise to focus on other parts of the war. Because the book is not broken into chapters and instead uses paragraphs under headings, I found it difficult to keep the characters straight and hard to read at times. Overall, however, it is a great idea for a book and these sisters deserve to have their heroic story told.
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Here is the back copy:
Based on the true story of the Cook sisters, who smuggled valuables out of 1930s Nazi Germany to finance a daring, secret operation to help Jews find hope for a new life in England.
British sisters Ida and Louise Cook enjoy their quiet, unassuming lives in south London. Ida writes romance novels, and Louise works as a secretary. In the evenings, the sisters indulge in their shared love for opera, saving their money to buy records and attend performances throughout England and Europe, becoming well-known by both performers and fellow opera lovers.
But when Hitler seizes power in 1933, he begins targeting and persecuting German Jews, passing laws that restrict their rights and their lives. The sisters continue their trips to the German opera houses, but soon, Jewish members of the opera community covertly approach the sisters, worried that they will be stripped of their wealth and forced to leave their homes and the country. Danger looms on the horizon, threatening to spill across all of Europe’s borders.
Ida and Louise vow to help, but how can two ordinary working-class women with limited means make a difference?
Together with their beloved opera community, the sisters devise a plan to personally escort Jewish refugees from Germany to England. The success of the plan hinges on Ida and Louise’s ability to smuggle contraband jewelry and furs beneath the watchful eyes of the SS soldiers guarding various checkpoints. But how many trips can they make before someone blows a whistle? Or before the final curtain falls on Germany’s borders?
The Opera Sisters is a riveting and inspiring novel of two unlikely heroines whose courage and compassion gave hope to many Jews desperate to escape Nazi persecution.
Lauren is from Utah and has been an avid reader her whole life. She graduated from BYU in History and currently teaches elementary school and works at a rare bookstore. She is also a docent at the Church History Museum. Her passions include traveling, spending time with family, learning about history, and of course, reading.