Rachel’s Legacy

Written by Julie Thomas
Review by Katie Stine

There are times when the plot of a book is better than the execution. This is one of those cases. In this WWII novel, with multiple timelines and multiple points of view, Rachel’s Legacy explores the secrets found in letters dating from the Nazi regime, written in Hebrew. Dr. Kobi Voight is our main protagonist, an Australian art scholar whose focus is the German artist Albrecht Dürer.  In contemporary times, his mother gives him some old letters, which she believes her German mother bought at a flea market years ago. When he travels to Berlin for his Ph.D., he has the letters translated, finding out that they were written by a Jewish Resistance fighter who signs them as “Ruby.” The letters are to the baby she has given up and hidden with a German farmer during the war. Kobi spends his time in Berlin discovering the true identity of Ruby and her baby, leading to family discoveries and a lost Dürer painting.

This is clearly a very well-researched book, with incredible details. However, because of its complex plotlines, large sections of the book are summaries of lives, reading more like the author’s character notes as opposed to fully realized prose designed to immerse a reader, or to evoke an emotion. Rachel’s Legacy is the second in a series (after The Keeper of Secrets); however, it seems to function well as a standalone. If one is particularly drawn to WWII as a time period, or to Holocaust aftermath stories, this is worth the read for the plotline.