Cover Image: A View Across the Rooftops

A View Across the Rooftops

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Not my usual genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Set in WW2 with the German occupation of Amsterdam. The story works on many levels, heartfelt and thought-provoking. Recommended.
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A View Across the Rooftops is a beautiful story of quiet resistance taking place in Nazi occupied Amsterdam. Spanning five years in Nazi occupied Amsterdam, this book follows several individuals trying to survive in a war ravaged country. What is particularly interesting about this one is how multifaceted it is. You spend some time experiencing the war from every perspective, a Jewish man in hiding, a Nazi sympathizer, and those stuck somewhere in the middle. This book will definitely appeal to fans of The Nightingale or Beneath a Scarlet Sky or anyone who likes historic fiction, especially if like me they are obsessed with WWII era fiction.

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A View Across The Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman is a powerful historical novel about ordinary men and women who performed extraordinary acts of bravery during a time of pure evil.
The novel is set in Amsterdam 1941-1945. It is the height of the Nazi occupation and a time of terror and unspeakable horrors. The Jewish people begin to disappear and no one said anything. Rumours of roundups began. Only when blood lands on a character’s doorstep do they wake up to the horrors all around. “When had all this become normal?” Now a character feels compelled to act.
Suzanne Kelman has captured the horrors of war and persecution. Man’s inhumanity to man knew no bounds. In contrast there were exceedingly brave acts performed by ordinary men and women who refused to let evil wash over them. “One doesn’t realise how brave one is until the cost outweighs the fear.” There were those who could not stand by and do nothing, those who went above and beyond, those who gave their all.
There is the theme of imprisonment. Not all the walls that hem us in are physical, some are mental as characters are trapped by guilt and memories. In some cases those trapped by walls are freer than those trapped internally. “They can take away my freedom, but they can’t suppress my thoughts or mind.”
Hope keeps us going. When we have hope, there will be something to live for.
In contrast to the everyday heroes, there were collaborators who profited from association with the Nazis. Some did it for gain, others were just wildly naïve.
A View Across The Rooftops is a powerful read of individual lights shining in a dark time. It would make a marvellous movie. I look forward to more by Suzanne Kelman.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
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I love the plot and the characters, simply amazing! Good from page one to the end. One of the best books I’ve read from Netgalley.
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I loved this book and the characters. I laughed at their jokes and cried at their defeats. I loved Elke and Michael and loved Josef and his character development
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Regular readers of my blog will know that historical novels, particularly those set in the WW2 era are my favourite. A View Across...is certainly no different. Set in Nazi occupied Amsterdam, it offers a different perspective from the usual German/British set novels of the time.

Professor Josef Held is the most unlikely person to break the law, or be an unwitting part of the resistance. But he is a good man, and understands that those occupying his beloved country are the ones in the wrong.

Consequently when a former student of his almost literally lands on his doorstep, Josef cannot help but take him in. He understands that by hiding him he is placing them both in extreme danger, but after the Nazi's captured and murdered his neighbour, he cannot stand by and let them win.

Meanwhile Josef's niece is ignorant to the terror that the Nazi's are causing and believes that the occupation is a good thing. She is in love with a Nazi officer, and this alone puts Josef in danger. Of course, she knows nothing of his deception, but Josef cannot afford to find out whether family loyalty comes before loyalty to a cause.

As the war rages on, our characters become more vulnerable and we wonder if any of them will survive the war. A View.. is a beautifully written novel about friendship, courage, loyalty, love and loss, and I can't wait to read another by this author.
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What a fantastic, thrilling read! I loved this story. Couldn't put it down. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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This story about the citizens of Amsterdam under German occupation during WWII was simply amazing.  Clearly those people who risked their lives to help, in this case Josef and Hannah who reached out to help those who were imperiled by the Nazis, never hesitated to think twice, but put their lives in danger as well.  The courage and humanity of the Dutch was an overwhelming story, one that resonates within me long after the last page is read and the book is closed.  My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A View Across the Rooftops was a super slow start for me in getting to love the characters, or hate them when needed. I am not sure if it was the cheesiness of the love scene between Josef and Sarah at the beginning or what, but it took a while to get into the groove. When I finally did, I fell in love with the caring of people who tried to protect the innocent, resist the evil and try to rebuild their lives. 

Josef is an emotionally shut down man. I feel as if he had the most growth in the whole book and I was thankful for that. The misunderstanding humor that was thrown in to the book surrounding he and Hannah Pender was head shaking and then happy when everything became clear.

I am glad that Bookouture caveated that this book was uncorrected as there were many misspelled words, wrong words in some places and a few rough patches in the reading where if I didn't know better I would think that Ms. Kelman was a debut novelist, which I knew she wasn't. I would really love to read the final copy to see if some of the wrinkles were ironed out.

Overall, the book was heartbreaking, heroic-filled, emotionally stimulating and the subject matter however many times a WWII resistance book is written was different than the next resistance book and I am grateful for that.
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One of the most amazing things about reading WWII Historical Fiction is how the genre highlights the many amazing groups of people that fought against the injustices they saw around them - the resistance groups, the spy networks, the OSS, the SOE - but what I find even more incredible is the everyday people that took it upon themselves to push back in whatever ways they felt they could, no matter how small.

This book was built around a simple, yet true, story - a man that injected himself with a deadly infectious disease in order to go to a hospital and receive the life saving medicine for both himself … and a sick Jewish man. The story that Suzanne Kelman wrapped around this one brave act was so wonderful, I was completely absorbed in it from start to finish.

The characters were amazing, the plot moved at a pace somehow slow enough to let you savor the words and the ideas while quick enough to keep your heart pounding, and the plot touched on so many different aspects of the German occupation of Holland. Each of the characters had a pivotal role in the story, and I was wholly invested in each of them.

There have been so many great WWII Historical Fiction books that have come out the past couple of years, and I've read quite a lot of them - but A View Across the Rooftops definitely stands out among the top of these recently published books. This one is a bit quieter, perhaps more simple in scope, but it's in that simplicity that it truly finds its greatness. I definitely recommend A View Across the Rooftops to any and all historical fiction readers - even those that have read tons of WWII Hist Fic already.

Thank you so much to @netgalley and @bookouture for the chance to read and review this book ahead of its publication - I obviously loved it so much I had to add it to my permanent collection!
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A lovely book that I could not put down. A story that shows the good and bad sides of war, with an insight into how life was in an occupied country. Definitely recommended to those readers who enjoy reading this genre.
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A View Across The Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman was a painful yet beautiful book to read. The story takes place durning WW2 when parts of the world was divided in the worst way. This story was beautiful in the way of the hope and humanity that it showed with one person risking everything to save another person. 
A View Across The Rooftop is a must read! It will remind all that kindness and humanity still can exist even in the darkest times!
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It isn't often that I'm still thinking about a book many weeks after having finished it, but this book is one of those rare exceptions. These characters are resilient, and they keep coming back into my mind, especially Josef. This is one of those unputdownable novels that makes you want to read passages out loud to those around you, even if it means they will think you are crazy. 

By the end of the first chapter, I knew I was hooked, and read this over the period of two days, even though I knew I had other things to do. I always find it interesting when I am more concerned that there are only a few pages left in a book and start worrying about what I could possibly read next that would be as good than I am ready to celebrate that I am near the end. I still haven't read anything as good as this since. 

I'm not sure I would classify this as a romance, in some ways I suppose it is, but in others, it is so much more than that and to classify it that way is to somehow cheapen it. This is a story of an unlikely friendship, an average man becoming a hero he didn't know he could be, and a historical novel that will make you think about the world we came from, the world we live in now and what might happen again in the future. 

Simply put, this is a beautiful novel, and I can't recommend it highly enough. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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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.
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As a fan of WW2 fiction, A VIEW ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS is unlike any other I have read. A touching tale of love, hope, courage and betrayal in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, it is evocative, emotional, unsettling and yet it is hauntingly beautiful. 

It's 1941 and the Nazi's have invaded Amsterdam, taking it over and setting up occupation in the name of the Fuhrer. There are German soldiers at every turn making the Dutch town a dangerous place to live. Radios were confiscated, food, clothes and medicine were in short supply and with their city under complete rule of the Nazis, the people were isolated from the outside world.

Professor Josef Held has never gotten over the loss of his beloved wife Sarah who died 20 years ago whilst giving birth to their first child. He has barely lived in the time since, refusing to forgive himself for letting it happen. By day he teaches advanced mathematics at the university and by night he sits at home alone with his cat, eating a plain and simple meal and listening to his neighbour play her piano. He has no intention of letting anyone else into his world...this existence in which he lives until the day he rejoins his beloved Sarah.

A sympathetic and compassionate man, Josef does not think of himself as brave. He has no intention of involving himself in the war around him. He just wants his life to remain as simple as possible. And yet, one night his life is changed forever when the Nazis come for his neighbour, Mrs Epstein, who both delighted and soothed his soul every evening with her beautiful piano. She begs him to help her but is wretched from his arms by the Nazis and shot. Josef is horrified and speechless. But more than that...he feels an incredible guilt as the Nazis thanked him for his good work. He knew then that he had a hand in his neighbour's demise when he told his niece Ingrid of his Jewish neighbour who played the piano, teaching local children how to play. And now Josef must live with what he has done.

Michael Blum is a young Jewish man and a student of Josef's at the university. He is a dreamer, a romantic, a poet and cares nothing for mathematics...but is following his father's aspirations to study numbers in the belief that he would make something of himself. But Michael comes up against adversity when Jews are banned from attending classes and in a final act of defiance completes his last exam with the writings of Josef's late wife's favourite poets, Rilke.

Michael wants nothing more than to live a quiet life on his girlfriend Elke's houseboat, writing poetry and making love. But when his childhood friend David comes knocking frantically, the Gestapo hot on his heels, Michael then attempts to escape the city...but David is killed. With frantic promises to Elke, Michael flees to the one person he feels he can trust.

When Josef hears the insistent banging on his door he worries that the Nazis have returned after shooting his neighbour in cold blood. But upon opening his door he is surprised to find his former student Michael, terrified and shaking...and a Jew on the run for his life. Without thinking twice, Josef offers Michael safe shelter in his attic for the night. But things become far too dangerous and fearing his house is under watch, Josef concedes that Michael must stay if he is to survive. This is especially true with Ingrid working with the Third Reich and dating a high level SS officer - Major Heinrich von Strauss - putting his life at an even greater risk. But after the death of his neighbour, the Major was of the firm belief that Josef was "one of the good Dutch". Indeed he was...just not in the way the Major thought.

Then there is Ingrid. As Josef's niece, she was orphaned at a young age when Josef himself was still grieving the loss of his own wife and was unable to take on the care of the little girl. So she was sent to live with relatives and attend boarding school...leaving Josef feeling guilty that he should've been there for Ingrid in her younger years. Now she is an adult and excited about her new job with the Third Reich. Josef is mortified. But Ingrid is naive in her knowledge of the Nazis, believing she is on the path to a better life - a richer life - with Heinrich by her side.

Meanwhile there are elements of romance throughout. While in the shadowy quiet of his secret room, Michael regales Josef with stories of his beautiful fearless girlfriend Elke, with whom he insists that not even the Nazis will come between. But Elke is a non-Jewish Dutch woman and their relationship is strictly forbidden. Furthermore, there is also Hannah Porter who works at the university where Josef teaches. Completely unaware that Hannah is interested in him, Josef surprisingly finds himself also intrigued by her but believes her to be a married woman so refuses to pay any heed to his attraction. But Hannah, who lives with her aging mother Clara, is a widow and tries in vain to capture the attentions of the somewhat aloof and indifferent professor. But given the troubled times in which they live, was it wise to embark on a new relationship?

A VIEW ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS is not a fast paced tale and yet it is so beautifully told that you find yourself so immersed within the story that you devour it all too quickly. I read it in two sittings, staying up till 3.30am until I turned the final page. 

A haunting tale, A VIEW ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS is unlike any WW2 historical novel. Every character draws you in as you invest yourself in each of their stories, whether they be good or bad, devouring it all with baited breath. Josef's heroic actions, Michael's strength, Ingrid's naivete, Elke's fearlessness, Hannah's courage, even Heinrich's insidiousness. By the end, I was left both heartbroken and satisfied.

A VIEW ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS is not just another Holocaust or WW2 story. It is something else entirely. Poignant, moving, tragic and heartbreaking but it is also inspiring, beautiful and hopeful. You will need a box of tissues for this one...but you won't regret it.

I would like to thank #SuzanneKelman, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #AViewAcrossTheRooftops in exchange for an honest review.
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What a beautiful story of friendship, love, courage, sacrifice and survival amidst the horrors of occupied Holland during World War 2.

I’m often interested to know what inspires authors in their writing - in this case it was the true story of a man who’d deliberately contracted a deadly disease just to get medicine for the Jewish person he was hiding.  Combining this with her own research, the author has successfully penned a novel that I would highly recommend without any hesitation.

Each character was so well depicted and through these character’s lives the reader is able to capture a real sense of the unethical treatment of the Jewish population in Amsterdam throughout the war.  It would seem that one of the author’s aims in the writing of this story was to portray the fact that war heroes did not just exist on the battlefield.  So many unsung heroes were just ordinary Dutch citizens - and the author has successfully portrayed this through the character of Josef in particular, but also Hannah and Michael.

Whilst Suzanne Kelman is already an established writer, this was the first historical fiction book she has written and I hope she writes more of this genre.  Historical fiction is my favourite genre to read and this book was every bit as good as some of the well-known WW2-themed titles published in recent years.

I am grateful to the publisher, Bookouture for an advance digital copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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1941 Amsterdam is not a very safe place to be. You need not be a Jew to feel unsafe. Professor Held is a quiet man. He lost his wife years ago and since then leads a solitary life, attending to his university job with care and diligence but not with any great passion. 

When he unexpectedly offers shelter to Michael a Jew on the run, it is completely out of character and something he never envisaged. When this hiding of the fugitive continues for years, it becomes a game of deadly hide and seek with the omnipresent Nazis using neighbours, relations and friends to rout out Jew and Resistance sympathizers.

When his own niece, his only relative becomes intimately involved with a Nazi officer and turns informant he knows he is risking it all as everything and the network can be blown sky high. Michael needs to get back to Elke his Dutch partner and to keep Michael alive Josef Held has to use all his powers of serenity and good sense to keep matters on an even keel.

Another excellent story on this turbulent part of all our lives set in Amsterdam highlighting unheard of heroes.
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A View Across te Rooftops is set during World War 2. It is a beautiful story that highlights both, the best and worst of humanity during the time period. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from the author in the future.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC
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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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