Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might all have been friends together. This was Birchwood. For readers of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz, as readers may recognise it. Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.
Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive? Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose? One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud - a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.
The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington is published by Bonnier, RRP $19.99.
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The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington was such an affecting read. The story depicts the inhumane treatment of the young and old in Birchwood. But amongst the hell and torments, the story also portrayed hope, triumph with some human acts of kindness that stood out amongst the hellish, worst of times, in unimaginable situations. The challenges faced by Ella, Rose and the wealth of secondary characters pulled at emotions, bringing to the forefront heartache at the torments they faced in the story. But the finale held promise for some characters and devastation for others.
Review copy received from Allen & Unwin Australia