A View Across the Rooftops

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

I found that the story line was easy to follow and the characters were extremely well written. My only complaint is that there was a lot of fictional fluff, as I like to call it. There were pages, and sometimes even full chapters that I skipped over. It got worse the closer to the ending I got. I also think the ending was very predictable and it took a little too long wrapping up. But other than that it was a great read and I will recommend it to others.
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There seem to be a lot of WWII stories being published at the moment covering all aspects of the War, A View Across the Rooftops is the best I have read so far.
The story is based in Amsterdam and tells us not only of the remarkable bravery and resilience of ordinary people against the Nazi regime, but also how some people were pulled in to the regime.
You feel a connection with all of the characters, even Ingrid who chooses a different path and are willing them to make it safely through the war.
The fact that the basis of this story is a real life act of courage makes this story even more poignant.
A first class read that will take you through every emotion.
I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley and the Publishers in return for an unbiased review.
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1941, Amsterdam. Professor Josef is grieving the loss of his wife. Sworn to never love anyone else again, he goes on with his life as a professor quietly, while Amsterdam is being torn by the Nazis. But when the Nazis start persecuting the Jews, Josef will be presented with a hard choice: does he go about his quiet life, or does he help another human being?

Josef soon decides to provide refuge to his student, Michael. And as they get to know each other better, he will need to help the young man again: Michael, a Jew, is in love with a Dutch girl, something strictly forbidden by the Nazis. Can he risk his life once more to help love survive?

A View Across the Rooftops is a moving story about love, heartbreak, and hope. Incredibly well-written, it has an outstanding narrative. While reading, you can't help but feel Josef's pain, and celebrate his honorable decisions. The setting is painted so well for the reader, that you can feel like you are part of the story. All in all, a very good book to read. Highly recommended for the fans of historical fiction, especially those who are interested in the WWII era.
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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel.    This book was amazing!    The historical fiction regarding WWII in Amsterdam was so well researched.   The heart of characters from Elje, to Michael, to Professor to Mrs. Pender was so well crafted.    The use of Rilke poetry through the book was very effective.    The story has so much emotion that I kept reading far into the night to finish.   This novel is definitely going to stay with me as the theme of value of one life resonated to my heart.   Well done!   5 stars!!!!
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EXCERPT: As Held walked home that evening, he bought a bottle of wine with his groceries as he dwelled on his day. The loss was acute. He knew it was just a wireless, a thing, an object, but it was what it represented to him. Hadn't the Nazis already taken so much? Their town, their way of life, their hope. Why was one more thing so important? They were already stripped and surrendered. What was the point of taking even more? And what would they do with his wireless? The sting of resentment coursed through him as he imagined it taking pride of place in some Nazi's home or, worse, getting dusty on some German requisition shelf. What harm could come to Germany from a mathematics professor with a wireless tuned to a classical music station?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 1941, Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.

As Nazis occupy his beloved city, Professor Josef Held feels helpless. So when he discovers his former pupil Michael Blum is trying to escape the Gestapo, he offers Michael a place to hide in his attic.

In the quiet gloom of the secret room, Michael talks of his beautiful, fearless girlfriend, Elke. Michael insists that not even the Nazis will come between them. But Elke is a non-Jewish Dutch girl, and their relationship is strictly forbidden.

Josef sees the passionate determination in his young friend’s eyes. Furious with the rules of the cruel German soldiers and remembering his own heartbreak, Josef feels desperate to give Michael and Elke’s love a chance. But then tragedy strikes, and Josef is faced with an impossible choice.

In the dark days of war, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted. If Michael is to survive and get back to the woman he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive.

Even if it means putting his own life in mortal danger.

MY THOUGHTS: A View Across the Rooftops never quite drew me in and enveloped me. I found it quite superficial, sanitised, rather than heart-wrenching. It makes oblique references to the atrocities that were inflicted on the Jewish population, but the closest it gets to the real thing is a brief description of the rounding up and trucking out of the Jews from the ghetto. And even that is dealt with rather gently.

This is a gentle book. A light, easy read that stirred no emotions in me whatsoever. And to be truthful, I began to lose interest in the middle. It picked up again at about 80% through, but at no point did I feel the raw emotion I have experienced with some other books dealing with the same subject.

More than a story of a man surviving German occupation and sheltering a Jew in his attic for most of the duration of the war, it is more a story of a man coming to terms with himself and his past, enabled by the war, and learning to live again.

My favourite quote from A View Across the Rooftops: 'It's hard for anyone to breathe in all of that, so much sadness in the air.'

#AViewAcrossThe Rooftops #NetGalley


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in the United Kingdom, Suzanne now resides in Washington State.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Amazon, Twitter and my webpage
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4.5 stars
This is an emotional, thought provoking read which manages to be both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

The author does a great job of setting the scene in this book so the reader feels like they are actually there watching everything unfold. I loved the sense of community spirit that existed with the characters showing strength and determination despite living in abject fear. The characters showed a lot of courage as they were willing to risk their lives to try and help others. I can’t imagine living through such a scary time and the fact that some of these stories are true adds a lot of emotion to the story as the events on the book probably did happen.

The story progresses at a great pace and all the storylines came together very well. The author manage to mix historical facts with fiction to make a truly compelling read which held my attention. I enjoyed following all the characters personal stories whilst learning more about Amsterdam and the holocaust during the war.

This is unbelievably the author’s debut novel and I’m very excited to read more from her in the future. If you are a fan of historical fiction set in the second world war then you’ll love this book.

Huge thanks to Sarah Hardy for Inc me onto the blog tour and to Bookouture for my copy of this book via Netgalley.
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Historical Romantic Fiction, not my normal genre but boy am I glad I made a exception for this.
A book that will induce a book hangover. A book that will stay with you long after you have finished it.
WW11 in Amsterdam. An insight into the terrible persecutions, the amazing bravery and the  sheer determination of a people at war with the Nazis and at times with themselves. Beautifully written and all the more shocking that’s it’s based on true stories.
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I ADORED this book. It was everything I love in a book and more. What a wonderful story!!! I could not stop reading once I got past the first 2 or 3 chapters.
It did start off a little slow and I wasn’t sure where the story was going but when it took off it was really a page turner. I loved every character!! Susanne Kelmen did a wonderful job with developing each characters story, back story, and really brought them to life. Such a great story about love and friendship, loss and sacrifice. One strives to have a friendship like that of Joseph and Micheal. 
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to read this book. It's a gem and I truly recommend it.
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I cannot describe how I loved this book!!  This is a favorite genre of mine and I am always so interested in the different perspectives you can get.  This book gave me all sorts of emotions at once.  It is written beautifully.  I know when I cry hard at the end of a book, it is definitely a 5 star review for me!!  Thank you Net Galley and Suzanne.  I look forward to seeing more from you!!
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One book that will remain with me for a very long time, beautifully written and thoroughly engaging, i could not put it down. loved it so much.

i cannot recommend this highly enough, i adore books set in this era anway and this just increased that love, all that history and book nerdiness 200%

A book that tops the 5 star rating easily 10/10
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Epic. There is no other way to describe this story. It is an incredible journey through occupied Amsterdam, from 1941 to after the war in 1947. The characters are realistic, and the author did an excellent job of creating a representative cross-section of people, from the Nazi sympathizer to the members of the Dutch Resistance. When it comes to books, I am not a crier, but I found myself tearing up several times at both the sheer beauty and the utter despair on the pages. This is one of my favorite books I have read this year, by far. For a detailed review, please visit my blog at Fireflies and Free Kicks Fiction Reviews. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a complimentary, pre-release, digital ARC of the book.
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As well as being a huge book geek, I am also a history nerd.  I absolutely love reading books set during the Second World War too.  I studied Modern History at A Level and of course the Second World War formed a large part of the course.  Anyway enough of my burblings about being a nerd and geek.  The synopsis of ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ told me that I had to read it as soon as I could.  I became hooked on this story from reading the synopsis and the story sealed the deal as it were.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ but more about that in a bit.
I took to the main character Josef Held from the first time I met him.  The prologue to this book details the courtship of Josef and his then girlfriend.  The main story finds Josef having lost his wife and he is teaching at the local university.  Circumstances have changed a lot and wartime Amsterdam is a lot different to the Amsterdam of Josef’s early years.  Josef tries to keep his head down but the truth of war is slowly opening his eyes as to what is really happening.  He gets an appalling shock when he hears his neighbour being killed simply for being Jewish.  This really brings the brutality of war home to him.  Josef has a niece who has embraced the Third Reich much to his displeasure.  Josef is one tough cookie but then he has had to be over the years.  I think deep down Josef is a bit of a rebel and in his own way, he rebels against the regime in certain ways by helping those who are under threat.
Oh my, ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ was one of those books that really got to me emotionally.  It didn’t take me long to immerse myself in the story and I found that I just could not put the book down.  I just had to keep reading to find out how the story panned out and what implications that had for Josef.  The more I read, the more I wanted to read and the quicker the pages seemed to be turning. I so immersed myself into the story that I was able to shut out all other distractions just so I could concentrate on this beautifully told story.  I binge read the book over the course of a few days.
For me, ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ is superbly written.  The author certainly knows her stuff and she has clearly done one hell of a lot of research, which shines through in her writing.  Suzanne certainly knows how to grab your attention from the start and once she has your attention she won’t let go of it until the moment you read the last word on the last page.  Suzanne has a writing style that is easy to take to and easy to get along with.  She writes so movingly, so realistically and so emotionally that I really felt that I was part of the story myself.  Every emotion that the characters went through I went through.  Although I wasn’t alive during the Second World War, I have a pretty vivid imagination and I kept putting myself in the position of the different characters to think about how I would feel if what happened to them happened to me.
Reading ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ certainly took me on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride with all the highs and lows, twists and turns and well you get the picture.
Overall I did enjoy reading ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ and I would recommend it to other readers but particularly to those readers who enjoy historical fiction.  I will definitely be reading more of Suzanne’s work in the future.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 4* out of 5*.
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Rating:  3.5 touching stars rounded down to 3 stars 

This story set in 1941 German occupied Amsterdam works on many levels.  I liked Josef’s backstory that slowly unfolded and helped explain his stoicism.  I liked the romance aspect between Michael and Elke who were both students in the University level math class that Josef taught.  Complicating the story is the fact that Michael is a Jew.  The Germans are trying to hunt him down.  They want to send him to a ‘work camp’ or just kill him on the spot when they capture him.  

Then there is Ingrid.  She is Josef’s adult orphaned niece.   She is self-centered, not too principled, and seeking an easy life.  She craves approval from all the wrong places.  She is a catalyst for one of the harrowing scenes told in the first third of the book.  When she sees her uncle after the incident, she does not understand why he is not happy about what had just taken place.

This is mainly the story of how Josef Held has to come to terms with whether or not to shelter Michael.  Is it worth it to put himself at risk for the sake of another?  Josef is a cautious man who has cut himself off from human touch and interaction after the death of his wife.  Can he find the courage to extend himself for another?  How do you weigh the value of your life against the potential of another’s life?

This book is about a dark subject in world history.  It is written in a gentle thoughtful style.  For me, the history was a little too glossed over.  It minimized some of the aspects of what the Germans did to the Jews in Amsterdam.  If you like your WWII stories told with a lighter touch including some romance in addition to historical fiction, this could be just the book for you.  I’d recommend it to readers who haven’t read much about WWII yet, or who don’t like to be overwhelmed with too many harrowing scenes directly involving the Holocaust and death camps.  

‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Bookouture; and the author, Suzanne Kelman for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. I'm trying to think of a better historical fiction novel I've read of this kind this year, and I can't. It really was historical fiction at its finest.
I liked the fact that this book had a different perspective on the war. It's the first book I've read, of the Nazi occupation in set in Amsterdam, so that added a different element to the book and kept it fresh. I was immediately immersed in the story. And I didn't leave it until the last page.
This book had fantastic characters. They're all so beautiful written. Josef, who is the main character, is so complex. You can really feel his internal struggle, with wanting to help and wanting to be safe. It was one of the joys of the book to watch his character open up. To see him help Michael is wonderful. For me, it's the foundation of this book. The bond they form is so special and heartwarming, in this brutal time in history, is probably my favourite thing about this book.
This book also has some wonderful secondary characters, who have some great storylines. Hannah, who joins the resistance and helps fight. Michaels girlfriend, who never gives up on him. And Ingrid, who is a Nazi sympathiser. A have to give a special shoutout to the arc of Ingrid's story because it had a twist I didn't see coming and I end up caring for her. It's brilliant writing. With all these perspectives, you'd think I'd hate one, but no.
The romance between Michael and his girlfriend is so lovely. I couldn't read this book fast enough to see if they became reunited. The ending! Oh my god the ending of their story. I'm not ashamed to say I cried. I'm not going to spoil anything for you, but I wept like a baby. I just didn't see it coming. It was one of those moments in a book where you just pause. I was so shocked. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
It's abundantly clear this book has been meticulously researched. It had to be, with so many perspectives being told. It was filled with just the right amount of detail to make it accurate, but never to get bogged down and lose the story.
This is just one of those books that has a tremendous amount of heart. It's all down the brilliant writing of Suzanne Kelman, who's managed to create wonderful, real characters and put them in a harrowing time in history. When I finished this book I was hopeful and my heart was full. It's such a fantastic story.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It comes out 25th October. Check it out.
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There are some books for which a 5-star rating just isn’t sufficient – A View Across the Rooftops is one of those books!

It’s not ‘just another war book’; not ‘just another Holocaust story’. No story about war is ever entirely one of fiction and in that respect, this book too draws heavily on fact, basing itself in Amsterdam and making use of many known incidents and individuals of that time. The story itself developed from one that was told to the author about an act of heroism that was committed in order to save a life. And indeed, the surname of one of the main protagonists is ‘Held’, which translated from the Dutch means ‘hero’.

Josef Held is living his own quiet insular life in Amsterdam during 1941 when the Nazi’s occupy his home town. He’s a Mathematics professor at the local university and is determined to continue as he’s always done since losing his beloved wife Sarah many years before. This is not his war; it has nothing to do with him; he suffers his own pain and doesn’t need to know of anyone else’s. As the number of students attending classes start to dwindle, and as food becomes scarce, Josef reminds himself that if he keeps his head down, all will be right with his world.

But this all ends abruptly when the brutality and ugliness of war arrives, literally, on his doorstep – in more ways than one – and he finds that he can no longer be a bystander to what is happening around him. Much to his surprise, he agrees to hide Michael Blum, one of his students – actually not even one of his favourite students (at all!) And so, Josef’s world that has been so dark for so long, starts to brighten … strangely during one of the darkest times of history.

I can’t even begin to describe all the nuances of this book, the way that it alludes to the many types of relationships required by various people at the different stages of their lives. It also shows how utterly cruel mankind can be and how people use each other and then cast them aside as if they’re mere things.

Ms Kelman’s characterisation is absolutely incredible. I could picture each and every person that she had crafted in those pages. They all came to life. Josef’s niece, Ingrid: desperate to be loved and to fit in somewhere … anywhere; the lovely, understated Hannah, together with her mother Clara, and the young Eva; the brutal, determined Heinrich with his single-minded aim to fulfil his designated task, whatever the cost. Each and every person – even Josef’s pet ‘Kat’ – was so perfectly depicted.

This is a beautiful story. Yes, it’s sad and painful to read. It’s poignant and heartbreaking, moving and tragic. But it is also inspiring and hopeful, leaving readers with a huge sense of optimism and faith that there are most certainly sparks of good to be found in humanity, even in its deepest, gloomiest depths.

Do yourself a favour and click on some of the research links that have been included at the end of the book for even more fascinating insights into Holland in World War II, the Resistance and other related topics.
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A wonderful story with some true facts. It was well researched and I thank the author for bringing awareness to yet another country's plight in this awful time of mankind. 
The writing was beautifully done, delivered well and it flowed easily so that I was unaware of the time that had passed. 
The main character was based on a real character and it shows how much the author admired his bravery. 
The explanation and the website references at the end were enlightening.

Thank you for the opportunity to read this story.
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A moving and beautiful novel about the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWII and the strength, character, and perseverance of the  Dutch.   More than just a historical novel, it demonstrates how everyone can be a hero. The heroes in this novel are normal, everyday people who often through quiet,  humble actions positively impact the lives of those around them.  Just as importantly, those heroes themselves change and grow as they are impacted by those they help.  This is a novel whose characters will live on in the minds of the reader!
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A touching story about Nazi occupied Amsterdam , a story of love, friendship and loyalty. This is the tale of a professor who hides one of his students during the occupation, their growing friendship during the war and realising learning about trust during such a turbulent time. An emotional read, a well researched book, well written and again very emotional so be prepared. Highly recommended 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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A moving tale of Nazi occupation of Amsterdam and the amazing effort of university professor Josef Held to help a young Jewish student.  It was a heartrending  story of love and determination in the face of opposition. Recommend for all those that enjoy a good historical fiction novel.
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A story of war, loyalty, love and friendship.  Based in Amsterdam during the Second World War, the Dutch Jews are being segregated and moved into the Ghettos.  Dutch Professor, Josef Held is losing his Jewish students by the day and when he watches his elderly Jewish neighbour killed on his own doorstep by the Nazis, he offers one of his students, Michael Blum, a place to hide.  Desperately trying not to be discovered, Michael forges a close relationship with Professor Held.  As the war continues though, they both begin to see that not everyone can be trusted…

I loved this book!  I do enjoy a good wartime read but the ones I read are mainly family sagas based around the women and families who are left behind when the men go off to war.  This book was completely different in that it was based in Amsterdam around the time of the persecution of the Jews.  Told over the space of 3 or 4 years, the story focusses mainly on the story of Josef Held, a Professor of Mathematics and widow.  It’s an emotional and heartfelt storyline that features not only the personal backgrounds of the characters, but also the horrors and ravages of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

The main characters of Held and his student Michael Blum are really well suited and complement each other well.  Initially finding Michael a bit of a dreamer during his classes, Professor Held’s relationship with him is described tenderly as the story progresses.  The plot not only shows the devastation caused by the Nazis, but also how the communities pulled together and would risk their own lives to protect each other.  I loved the side-line story of Held’s niece, Ingrid.  She works with the Third Reich and finds herself romantically involved with a Nazi Officer.  Her storyline progressed really well and whilst I sort of guessed where it was going, it was played out wonderfully!

The book was well researched with lots of fiction for the characters storylines, but also with plenty of historical facts from events that happened around that time.  It moved at a good pace, holding my interest and with unexpected twists of events placed throughout the story.  Whilst it was a work of fiction, it made you remember, as you read it, what actually happened not just in Amsterdam but in many countries, cities and towns throughout Europe during the Second World War, and how many Jews lost their lives to the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

A wonderfully written historical book, which left me thinking about it long after I’d finished it.  Heart-warming and emotional, if you enjoy wartime stories then I would definitely recommend this one.
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