By Ekta R. Garg
July 30, 2014
Rated: Bookmark it!
A young woman in the present day on a quest to discover the origins of a painting crosses paths with a man on the same mission. A violin prodigy in Nazi Austria discovers that standing up for justice has dire consequences. The painting ties the two women together. Debut novelist Kristy Cambron brings to life a heartbreaking but important reality of World War II in the slightly cheesy but ultimately enjoyable book The Butterfly and the Violin.
Sera James owns her own art gallery in New York and throws herself into her work. Past heartaches spur her to focus on her most favorite conundrum: the origins of a particular painting. A copy hangs in her gallery, but Sera wants the original. More than a professional quest, for Sera obtaining this painting also represents a personal redemption. When she meets a business tycoon driven by the same goal, she wonders whether she can trust him. Ultimately, however, because of his resources and his own personal connection to the painting, Sera knows she’ll have to work with him if she ever wants to see the painting in person.
In 1942 Adele Von Bron’s immense talent as a violinist ensures that she enjoys life as the darling of her family and of Austria. But she can’t stomach the reality of the Nazi regime. Her sense of right and wrong doesn’t allow her to stand by and watch as Jews get murdered for the simple fact of their faith. She joins the underground network that smuggles Jews out of Vienna, but when she gets caught even her father’s military rank can’t save her from Auschwitz. When Adele reaches the camp, the full horror of Hitler’s reign descends on her life and she turns to her faith even as she begins to question it.
Author Kristy Cambron illuminates a lesser known fact about the Holocaust: works of art created in the concentration camps. Despite the horrors that occurred around them, prisoners managed to produce works in poetry, paintings, music, and more art forms. Cambron highlights this detail and offers readers a story that will keep them engaged.
The portions of Adele’s life, in particular, provide wonderful reading. Clearly Cambron has done her research on the subject. While she might be faulted on a minor note for the lack of authenticity in her dialogue between young people in German Austria—many of the exchanges sound American and not German—her story in those sections will compel readers to overlook the dialogue and move forward in the story.
The sections on Sera’s life feel somewhat less developed. Cambron sets a difficult task for herself in wanting to solve a mystery and give her heroine a romantic track that holds equal weight. For the most part the story progresses well, but occasionally parts of scenes feel bogged down by the traditional trappings of romance. Fortunately these scenes don’t dominate the book, allowing readers to glide back to the mystery of the painting. Cambron handles the mystery with expertise, and she gives readers a satisfying conclusion.
I recommend The Butterfly and the Violin for anyone who enjoys WWII historical fiction, and readers who enjoy romance with substance will also like this one.