Rampaging Nazis, frauleins in distress, wide-eyed children in peril, helpful priests, and a dashing young American reporter to the rescue - the perfect list of ingredients for a predictable historical romance set during World War II.
Cathy Gohlke’s novel, Saving Amelie, has all of the above, including a predictable plot with stereotypical characters.
In the novel, young and beautiful Rachel Kramer is visiting Germany in 1939 with her father, a scientist very much involved in eugenics experiments. She discovers that her friend’s daughter, who was born deaf, is slated to be euthanized –with the approval of the girl’s father, a rabid SS officer who cannot abide less than perfect Aryan offspring. Reluctantly, Rachel steps in, with the help of charming reporter, Jason Young, to spirit the child away.
Along the way, Rachel discovers she has a twin who had been sterilized as a result of eugenic experiments that both of them had unwittingly taken part in as they grew up.
Soon Rachel and the child find themselves hiding in the quaint village of Oberammergau, refugees in the home of her newly found sister and grandmother.
Don’t get me wrong, Saving Amelie is not a bad read, especially if you like novels set in this particular era. But it is nothing new. Some of the characters reminded me of characters in a series of books, The Zion Covenant, written by Bodie Thoene, particularly the newspaper reporter. And the final climatic scene during the play? I couldn’t help but think Sound of Music.
There was one intriguing subplot of the book that I really wanted Gohlke to run with, but she was satisfied with leaving it in the shadows - reporter Jason Young’s interaction with Dietrich Bonheoffer. Bonheoffer, the author of The Cost of Discipleship and a German believer who stood up to the Nazi regime, was an interesting addition to the storyline, but, unfortunately, a sideline that was not developed. That was a disappointment.
All in all, Saving Amelie is a novel that delivers a tried and true formula. If you like this type of historical romance, it delivers no more than what you would expect.