Within These Walls of Sorrow by Amanda Barratt
Historication Fiction | WWII Fiction
“There is evil and there is good and there is the space between. We are given free will to choose where we stand. Evil thrives when good men choose the space between.” — Within These Walls of Sorrow
Within These Walls of Sorrow is, as one may assume from the title, the sort of story that both breaks you down and lifts you up. It’s a story of extreme suffering and anguish, heartache, and unimaginable horror. And yet, it’s also a book full of humanity and hope. A story that highlights what happens when we focus on an individual and truly see them as a person worthy of being treated with respect, love, and kindness.
This was not an easy book to read. I will admit that it left me feeling raw and uncomfortable after reading it — and that is part of why we read novels like this. Books like this don’t shy away from the atrocities that were committed during the Second World War, but encourage us to never forget. They also remind us to look for those who didn’t choose to live in the “space in between” evil and good but chose to make a stand against injustice.
As a novel, this book was beautifully written. The writing is lush and transportive, allowing a reader to be completely immersed in the novel. The story is set in Poland, following the German invasion in WWII and it was clear that Barratt had done an intense amount of research into both the time period and physical setting. While some of the historical information occasionally came across as telling rather than showing, it was always interesting and key to the authenticity of the plot.
Within These Walls of Sorrow is built around the true story of Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his pharmacy located in the heart of the Krakow Ghetto — Apteka Pod Orłem. This is a bit of history that I hadn’t yet encountered, and I was truly moved by the heart of these pharmacists. All of the characters were immaculately crafted and their stories were heart-wrenching but inspiring. Although fictional, I loved Zosia and Hania and the human connection woven between them.
For those looking for an authentic WWII story that has been written with respect and grace, I recommend Within These Walls of Sorrow.
Those looking for a fictional story built around the unsung heroes at Apteka Pod Orłem.
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance e-copy of the book provided courtesy of the author and Kregel Publications. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany’s invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression.
Hania Silverman’s carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto’s population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania’s natural resiliency is exhausted by reality.
Zodia and Hania’s lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart.
Amanda Barratt’s meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times.