A Song for Her Enemies

Written by Sherri Stewart
Review by Lorelei Brush

Tamar Kaplan, a Jewish woman and promising soprano with the Haarlem Opera Company in 1943, is given a chance to sing Violetta in La Traviata. Her performance is magnificent, and she dreams of a brilliant future. Little does she know the company will be shut by the Nazis the following day. At the celebration of her triumph, her brother introduces her to Dr. Daniel Feldman, a Jewish resident at the local hospital and a member of the Dutch Resistance. When the opera company closes, Tamar acts as Daniel’s nurse assisting Jews who are in hiding and hoping to escape. The pair themselves are soon forced to flee and are fortunate to be hidden by a Christian violinist from the opera company. Love grows between Tamar and Daniel as they face the dire consequences of being Jewish.

One central theme of the book is Tamar’s questioning of the role of God in this nightmare of her life. Her Christian friend encourages her to look for “God’s hand when evil reigns around us.” Throughout her time in the Resistance and in two transition camps, Tamar witnesses a series of atrocities and uses this advice, to the extent she can, to keep her faith and the hope she’ll survive.

This novel is a Christian-oriented addition to the World War II repertoire. It is also somewhat different from most World War II books in its setting in Holland, where a larger proportion of Christians aided Jewish neighbors, and in that faith ultimately triumphs.