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The Last Train to London: A Novel
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HarperCollins 2019
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Description

National Bestseller

A Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice A Jewish Book Award Finalist

"An absolutely fascinating, beautifully rendered story of love, loss, and heroism in the dark days leading up to World War II. . . . A glowing portrait of women rising up against impossible odds to save children." —Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Alone and The Nightingale

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna's streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan's best friend and companion is the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents' carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis' take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler's annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.

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Street Date:
09/10/2019
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062946966
ASIN:
B07NL8TTQS
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APA Citation (style guide)

Meg Waite Clayton. (2019). The Last Train to London: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Meg Waite Clayton. 2019. The Last Train to London: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Meg Waite Clayton, The Last Train to London: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2019.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Meg Waite Clayton. The Last Train to London: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2019.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Meg Waite Clayton is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, most recently The Postmistress of Paris. Her previous novels include the Langum Prize-honored The Race for Paris; The Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (now the PEN/Bellwether); and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly's 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. She has also written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes, and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face.

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fullDescription

National Bestseller

A Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice A Jewish Book Award Finalist

"An absolutely fascinating, beautifully rendered story of love, loss, and heroism in the dark days leading up to World War II. . . . A glowing portrait of women rising up against impossible odds to save children." —Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Alone and The Nightingale

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna's streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan's best friend and companion is the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents' carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis' take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler's annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Karen Joy Fowler, author of the USA Today Bestseller We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
      • content:

        "The Last Train to London is painful and beautiful, absorbing and unforgettable. A wonderful tribute to courage, to a remarkable woman, to the ones she saved, and the ones she could not. Recommend this book to anyone who thinks no single person can make a difference." — Karen Joy Fowler, author of the USA Today Bestseller We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

        "The Last Train to London is an absolutely fascinating, beautifully rendered story of love, loss, and heroism in the dark days leading up to World War II. Clayton perfectly captures the tension and heartbreak of the times, which feel so relevant today. It is a glowing portrait of women rising up against impossible odds to save children." — Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Alone and The Nightingale

        "What a delight it was to read this brilliant telling of the Kindertransport, a novel threaded with compassion, hope and love. Thank you, Meg Waite Clayton for reminding us of what can happen when good people conspire against evil." — Heather Morris, #1 bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz

        "The Last Train to London is a rare thing: intellectually provocative and emotionally moving in equal measure. What a fine tribute to the victims and survivors of the Nazis' early terrors, and to the woman who at great personal risk and sacrifice subverted Hitler's will. Everyone should read this timely, gorgeous novel." — Therese Anne Fowler, bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

        "This is a standout historical fiction that serves as a chilling reminder of how insidious, pervasive evil can gradually seep into everyday lives." — Publishers Weekly

        "Enlightening, meticulously researched ... Clayton's story of the remarkable woman, known as Tante Truus, is enriched by a compelling cast of fictional characters." — Booklist (starred review)

        "With its well-developed characters and race-against-the-clock plot, this fantastic novel should have broad appeal, especially with fans of historical fiction and thrillers." — Library Journal (starred review)

        "Riveting ... Clayton makes vivid Truus's courage and resourcefulness in the face of growing danger as borders close throughout Europe." — BBC

        "Glimmers with hope: the heroism of everyday people putting their own comfortable lives in jeopardy to help others." — BookPage

        "An engrossing, heart-wrenching, and inspiring account of ordinary people making life-and-death choice in the darkest of times." — Jerusalem Post

        "Excellent. . . clearly the product of prodigious historical research. . . serves as a reminder that even in dangerous times, every person can make a difference. . . . Ultimately, this historical novel offers great insight into the inspiring humanity of those who opposed the Nazis; Clayton brings Tante Truus to life at a timely moment when cruelty is once again on the march." — San Francisco Examiner

        "Heartfelt and mesmerizing...takes the reader on an unforgettable journey...If you like books set in World War II featuring complex, courageous female protagonists who were ahead of their time, this book should earn a place at the top of the list." — Historical Novels Review

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2019
        Clayton's (Beautiful Exiles, 2018, etc.) novel about the Kindertransport program joins the recent spate of Holocaust books (from All the Light We Cannot See to The Tattooist of Auschwitz) that allow readers to identity with heroes and survivors instead of victims. The real-life heroine here is Truus Wijsmuller, the Dutch Christian woman instrumental in smuggling approximately 10,000 children out of the Reich and into England through the Kindertransport. The villain is the infamous Adolph Eichmann. Early in his career Eichmann authored the influential paper "The Jewish Problem," about how to rid the Reich of Jews. After Germany took over Austria he landed a powerful position in Vienna. In 1938, Truus met with Eichmann, who offered what he assumed was an impossible deal: If she could arrange papers for exactly 600 healthy children to travel in one week's time--on the Sabbath, when Jewish law forbids travel--he would allow safe passage. With help from British activists, Truus successfully made the arrangements and found refuge for all 600 children in England. Clayton intersects these historical figures and events with fictional characters trapped in Vienna. Aspiring playwright Stephan, 15 years old when the novel begins in 1936, comes from a wealthy Jewish family, manufacturers of highly prized chocolate candies. The Nazis strip ownership of the chocolate factory from Stephan's father and hand it to Stephan's Aryan Uncle Michael. A guilty collaborator torn between greed and love, Michael is the novel's most realistically portrayed character, neither good nor entirely evil. Sensitive, brilliant, and precocious, Stephan is naturally drawn to equally sensitive, brilliant, and precocious Zofie-Helene, a math genius whose anti-Nazi father died under questionable circumstances and whose journalist mother writes the outspokenly anti-Nazi articles about actual events, like Britain's limiting Jewish immigration and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, that punctuate the plot. After Kristallnacht Stephan ends up hiding in Vienna's sewers (a weird nod to Orson Welles in The Third Man), and Zofie-Helene's mother is arrested. Will Stephan and Zofie-Helene end up among the children Truus saves? Workmanlike and less riveting than the subject matter.

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 5, 2019
        Clayton (Beautiful Exiles) reaches into the troubled lives of the Third Reich’s civilian victims, drawing readers into one woman’s efforts to save children in this excellent novel based on actual events. Geertruida Wijsmuller, known as “Tante Truus” and part of the Dutch resistance, is determined to risk everything to save children of all ages despite—or because of—her inability to bring a pregnancy to term herself. In Vienna, the lives of two children are highlighted: Stephan Neuman is Jewish, and because he turned 17 in 1938, he’s barely allowed to escape to England in the 1938–1939 Kindertransport, which will not accept 18-year-olds. Stephan’s friend and budding beloved, 15-year-old Sofie-Helene Perger, is not Jewish, but her mother is a journalist who refuses to stop writing articles critical of Hitler. Stephan, an aspiring playwright, must adapt to the changes in his life, which was once filled with wealth from his father’s famous chocolate factory. Math prodigy Sofie also tries to adapt, uncertain about how to help Stephan without threatening her own family. The children and Tante Truus’s stories don’t intersect until later in the book, when she secures them safe passage to England due to a daring, last-second decision. Clayton effectively captures the dim hope of survival amid the mounting terror of the lead-up to WWII. This is a standout historical fiction that serves as a chilling reminder of how insidious, pervasive evil can gradually seep into everyday lives. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Associates, Inc.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from August 1, 2019
        Geertruida Wijsmuller-Meijer?a real-life Dutch Resistance fighter and the heroine of Clayton's enlightening, meticulously researched historical novel?began rescuing Jewish children from the Third Reich as early as 1933. As Nazi power grew, she expanded her efforts, ushering hundreds of children to safety. Clayton's story of this remarkable woman, known as Tante Truus, is enriched by a compelling cast of fictional characters. Stephan Neuman, son of a Jewish businessman in Austria, is a budding playwright at 17; his good friend, Zofie-Helene, is a math whiz. In chapters alternating with those describing Tante Truus' dangerous trips between Austria and the Netherlands, Clayton relates the struggles faced by the young pair. Stephan's father is picked up by the Gestapo, and dies in German custody; Stephan hides in underground tunnels. Zofie is Christian, but her father is dead, and her mother, a well-known journalist who writes fearlessly about the Nazi treatment of Jews, is sent to jail. Eventually Tante Truus convinces Adolf Eichmann to let her take one last train of Austrian children to England, where they will be housed in camps until families are found to shelter them. Stephan, Zofie, and Stephan's younger brother make this harrowing journey to an uncertain future, one experienced by so many.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 13, 2019

        In 1930s Vienna, playwriting Jewish teenager Stephan enjoys a close friendship with whip-smart Christian girl Zofie-Helene. Everything changes horribly with the Anschluss, and Stephan and Zofie-Helene are just two of the many endangered children smuggled out of continental Europe by Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance. New York Times best-selling author Clayton draws on Wijsmuller's real-life story; with a 200,000-copy first printing.

        Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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National Bestseller

A Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice A Jewish Book Award Finalist

"An absolutely fascinating, beautifully rendered story of love, loss, and heroism in the dark days leading up to World War II. . . . A glowing portrait of women rising up against impossible odds to save children." —Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Alone and The Nightingale

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and...

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