Cover Image: The Rainbow

The Rainbow

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Member Reviews

I'm afraid I am in the minority here when I say this book is 2 stars at best. I found the language stilted and difficult to enjoy.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone. Ever.
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This is a wonderfully written book about little known events during WWII.  I have read many WWII books and it always amazes me when something new comes along.

This is the story of Isla and her dear grandfather who, at 95 is struggling with dementia.  Isla finds a photograph while planning for a birthday party.  And, now, this is where the story begins...

Many thanks to Netgalley and Bookoutoure for this advanced readers copy.  This book released in July 2021.
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TRIGGER WARNING: this book contains violence and war crimes
2015, England: Isla visits her elderly grandparents and discovers a rainbow coloured scarf and a newspaper article in the attic which suggests her grandfather Tomasz fought for the Nazis. He now has dementia and she doesn't want to upset him so she travels to his homeland of Poland to ask his brother about the war...
The Rainbow is a dual timeline historical novel set in the 1930s and 40s as well as 2015. The book is written from multiple perspectives in the first and third person.
Author Carly Schabowski has done plenty of research based on her own family history into the situation of Poles during WW2. Many were rounded up and sent to concentration camps but some that had German heritage were forced to fight for the Nazis. This is the basis for the story arc of Tomasz, compelled to fight alongside his enemy for a regime that has invaded his homeland.
Isla is shocked to find the photo of her grandfather in Nazi uniform. She cannot reconcile the image with the man she has known her whole life. Her visit to her great uncle provides her with diaries that chart Tomasz's early life and then a second visit allows her to meet some of his old friends.
Through the diaries we learn about the cruelty of war and the desperate need to survive. There is tension as Tomasz tries to stay loyal to himself and his country but the constant danger looms over his character like a spectre. He has to make some hideous decisions and there were times when I had to put the book down and distract myself from the tragedy in the pages.
There is a section near the end which is beautifully written from Tomasz's first person perspective, as if he were talking directly to Isla and therefore us. The style is natural, conversational and really makes him come to life.
The Rainbow is a hugely emotional and fascinating book of love, grief and the fight for survival.
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A beautiful and emotional read from a talented author. The story focuses on heartbreak and devastation when people are forced into roles they don’t want to accept and the resilience of the human spirit. Will read more by this author. 5 stars
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This was my first book by this author and I loved this story! A wonderful historical fiction book! Highly highly recommend
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“The Rainbow” is a shatteringly lovely, heart-wrenching AND heart-warming story about a little-known group of people: the Polish conscripts into the German army during WWII. The author skillfully weaves the tale between present-day (POV: main character’s granddaughter) and the past, using many flashbacks, stories, and letters.
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A wonderful read joining Isla's journey to discover her Polish grandfather's past. The story takes the reader to Poland past and present and the experiences of a generation during WWII. It's a story of love, defiance, family, loss and much more. Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the arc.
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As Isla begins preparing for her beloved grandfathers birthday, she comes across a colourful scarf and a photograph of her grandfather in a German War uniform which leaves Isla confused and questioning whether she truly knows her grandfather at all. Under normal circumstances Isla would simply ask her grandfather to explain the picture, but as he is living with dementia she doesn’t want to risk causing him any distress.

It is this discovery that takes Isla on a journey to Poland as she tries to piece together the mystery surrounding the scarf and picture she found, and as she delves further into her Grandfathers youth, it instils something within her that pushes her to make more of her life. Whilst there she discovers family she never knew existed, and makes connections that change her life forever.

This is one of those books that draws you in from the moment you begin reading it. The story itself is informative and moving, and truly gives a voice to how living throughout War times often forced people in to making decisions they would usually avoid. The way in which the story is told is captivating and emotional and has you frantically turning the pages, desperate to know what happens next.

The characters are well fleshed out and have each been given their own unique voices that allow us to connect with them on a much deeper level. The bond that Isla shared with her grandfather was truly beautiful and filled my heart with so much joy, a feeling that only intensified as we learned more about them both as the story progressed.

A beautifully written tale of love, loss, and the importance of family. I adored this book.
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This was such a wonderful, emotional book. It was WWII historical fiction, but from a different perspective. The story follows Isla discovering the history of her grandfather, who was forced to join the Nazis against his will. It is a story of heartbreak, redemption, and moving forward. I really enjoyed it and will continue to read more by this author. Would definitely recommend! I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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What an incredibly emotional and compelling story of love and loss, protection and survival, strength in the face of adversity.

I’m always interested to know what inspires authors in their writing - in this case it was her own Grandfather’s wartime experiences as a young Polish man forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht.  Combining this with her own impeccable research across seven years, the author has successfully penned a novel that I would highly recommend without any hesitation.

The Rainbow is a gripping story - every single characters is so wonderfully depicted, the pace is good and the story flows really well between the dual timelines and narratives.  The plot is really fantastic - so well thought out and all the elements put together beautifully.  Carly Schabowski has done an incredible job of bringing to life the lesser-known story of a quarter of a million Polish boys forced into the German Army.  Definitely a book I didn’t want to put down.

I am grateful to the publisher, Bookouture, via NetGalley for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Another great WWII novel that will have you questioning what you know of your family's past. The grandparent, or any family member you know in their Golden years is going to be a drastically different person than the young one that fell in love or fought for a  cause they believed in. Even if looking back they were on the wrong side of history. You are limited in what you can know, what you can ask, and that only leaves you more confused and time is running out.  
In a dual timeline that often gets a little muddle, we learn how everyone has secrets and losing your memories as you age may sometimes be a blessing in disguise. 
I will definitely seek out historical fiction...though this is BASED on a true story....from this author again.
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Thanks NetGalley, Bookouture and Carly Schabowski for an ARC to review. 
Excellent read about the horrors of WWII and the choices people were forced to take that they would never have chosen in normal circumstances. 
Isla's quest to solve the mystery of a hidden photo and a discarded rainbow silk scarf takes up upon a rich historic journey weaved by flawed human beings and their tales.
I loved it.
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This was such a great mystery that unfolds slowly but does not leave you disappointed.

Isla finds a picture in the attic of her beloved polish grandfather in a nazi uniform. Unable to ask him about it due to his dementia and unable to believe it she chases the story of how this came to be. The history this search uncovers is not a clean neat one but one that needs to be told. 

I read a lot about WWII but have never heard about polish citizens being conscripted into the German army. This was a whole new area the author brings to light. 

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. All opinions are my own.
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Oh wow. Such a beautiful beautiful story.   The writing is poignant and rich, transporting and wonderful. Jewels on the page. Loved this one so much.
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This is a complex dual-timeline novel that will break your heart, while at the same time giving you hope. We are transported to the devastation of World War II, and all its horror and secrets, and then to England 2015, as a granddaughter is dealing with the heartbreak of her grandfather’s dementia, and then even more pain upon learning certain truths. We are shown a compelling story of love, sacrifice, secrets, and betrayal, and left in awe at how love can overcome hate. I felt a connection to the dementia aspects of this story, as I personally watched dementia slowly take my Dad’s memory, and the heartbreak of that is portrayed in a real way in this novel. The fact that this is based on a true story makes it even more compelling. Carly Schabowski has woven together a complex, beautiful, and painful tale that will keep you attuned to each turning page until the last secret is revealed.

I received a free copy of this book via Bookouture.  My opinions are my own.
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4.5 Stars

Carly Schabowski’s The Rainbow is an emotional, intense and captivating tale of love, loss and hope that will break your heart.

Growing up, Isla had loved listening to her beloved grandfather’s stories about his life as a child in pre-war Poland. His childhood idyll had come to an end with the advent of the Second World War where her grandfather had fought so valiantly and courageously to defeat the Germans and protect his people. Isla’s grandfather had always been her hero – until she begins to look into his past to collect photos for his upcoming 95th birthday celebration and makes a shocking discovery: her grandfather was a Nazi. Is everything she has always believed to be true about her grandfather a lie? Unable to ask him any questions due to his advanced dementia, Isla finds herself with no other option but to start digging and to try and uncover the dark secrets rattling in her family’s closet.

Taking comfort from his rainbow-coloured scarf, Isla starts to look into her grandfather’s past and discovers a story that is even more shocking than the one she had previously imagined. Isla slowly brings to light the long-buried story of two childhood sweethearts whose forbidden love had been obstructed at every turn. Torn apart by duty towards his family, a brave young man had risked his heart, his life and the respect of the people closest to him in order to secretly fight for justice behind enemy lines.

As Isla pieces together the pieces of this puzzle, will she find the answers she so desperately seeks? Or will her discoveries end up destroying everything she always thought she knew?

Carly Schabowski’s The Rainbow is a book that will stay with you long after the last page is turned. A haunting, mesmerizing and powerful rollercoaster ride that beautifully illustrates the hardships, anguish and sorrows of wartime, whilst also celebrating enduring qualities we can all relate to such as the lengths people go those for the people they love, the hope that sees us through the darkest of days and the ability to heal and forgive, Carly Schabowski’s The Rainbow is compulsively readable fiction at its most spellbinding.
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First, let me start by giving you a trigger warning! This book deals with Alzheimers. If that is something that triggers strong emotions in you, you may want to use caution when picking up this book. With that being said, this book tore me up emotionally! What made it even worse was knowing that this book is based on true events! Many times, I had to stop and digest what I had just read. That is how emotional I got. I cannot even begin to imagine what Ilsa's grandfather had to go through, how tormented he must have been all these years knowing what he had done, or rather, what he was forced to do to help fight for justice from deep within enemy ranks. While I can't be 100% certain if I could have done what he did, I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done any of those things, not even to fight the enemy secretly. It's one thing to openly fight someone who's done horrible things to others but it is a totally different story when you have to be actively involved in those atrocities to fight that enemy. It takes a special type of person to be involved in horrible events and not lose your humanity and sanity. Ilsa's grandfather often feels that he is a coward but I totally disagree! It takes a lot of courage to do what he did. He paid a high price for his involvement with the enemy. Back then, PTSD was not a widely known mental illness even though it existed. Nowadays, that is exactly what I think he suffered from after everything he experienced! 
I like that Carly Schabowski chose two timelines: 2014 and then the WWII years. You get to read about the mental state of the grandfather both in modern times and in WWII.
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This was a beautifully written novel about Isla and her Grandfather.

Its written in dual timelines which is always nice to see in a novel. We get Isla wanting to find out more about her grandfather in the present and in the past we get to find out more about how her grandfather lived.

It's emotional, heartbreaking and based on true accounts. It shows the atrocities that happened during that time.

I was hooked from the very first word to the last word of the book.

Highly recommend
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What a read that was ... so good!

I am not normally a fan of historical fiction but the cover and then the blurb had me interested and I am so pleased I didn't let this pass me by.  Although this is a work of fiction, it is inspired by a true story but it feels like a "real" story and I was totally and utterly absorbed and invested in the lives of all the characters.  

The story starts off in the present when Isla finds a photograph of her grandad in a German uniform, this raised questions and caused confusion as the story always told was how her grandad fought against the German's in World War II.  Unable to find answers from her grandad, who has dementia, she begins a quest to uncover the truth and so begins this brilliantly written story of war, adversity, strength, courage, love, loss and friendship.

I am unable to give this book the review it deserves, I can't find the right words to put across how much I enjoyed it for which I apologise but a massive thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for my copy in return for an honest, unbiased and unedited review.
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A photograph and a colourful scarf are two items found in an attic that send Isla into the past. She thinks the scarf is beautiful and shouldn't be left to moulder in the attic and wears it. The photograph elicits the totally opposite reaction. Shocked at what she sees, her grandfather in a Nazi uniform, Isla looks for answers. Her grandmother fobs her off with a vague explanation and her grandfather cannot be approached because of his advanced dementia. Isla is unwilling to let the matter drop. She needs to know that the beloved grandfather, who told her heartwarming stories of his childhood and the country of his birth, who fought with the Allies during the war, is not the person in the photograph. And so begins an emotional story that will transport the reader from pre-World War II Poland to the present.

I'd already guessed how Tomasz came to be in a German uniform as the enforced conscription of Polish youths into the German army was known to me. This fate befell some of my relatives. Like Tomasz, they eventually made it to Scotland and joined the Allied fight against the Nazis. So, I was eager to read The Rainbow but totally unprepared for how emotionally invested I became in Tomasz's story. The lovely dedication brought tears to my eyes even before I'd plunged into the story proper.

This is a beautifully written story that will tug at your heartstrings from the beginning, especially as one of the characters has dementia. As Isla delves into the past she will uncover a tale of love, sacrifice, survival, courage and loss. There is also a touch of magic as the significance of the rainbow coloured scarf is revealed.

The Rainbow is one of the finest World War II novels I've read this year. It is an engrossing and moving experience drawn from the author's family history and one I highly recommend.
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