A poignant and ultimately triumphant novel based on the incredible true story of children who braved the formidable danger of guarded, wintry mountain passes in France to escape the Nazis, from the acclaimed author of Courage, My Love.
Southern France, 1942
In a remote corner of France, Jewish refugee Ella Rosenthal has finally found a safe haven. It has been three years since she and her little sister, Hanni, left their parents to flee Nazi Germany, and they have been pursued and adrift in the chaos of war ever since. Now, they shelter among one hundred other young refugees in a derelict castle overseen by the Swiss Red Cross.
Swiss volunteers Rösli Näf and Anne-Marie Piguet uphold a common mission: to protect children in peril. Rösli, a stubborn and resourceful nurse, directs the colony of Château de la Hille, and has created a thriving community against all odds. Anne-Marie, raised by Swiss foresters, becomes both caretaker and friend to the children, and she vows to do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.
However, when Germany invades southern France, safeguarding Jewish refugees becomes impossible. Château de la Hille faces unrelenting danger, and Rösli and Anne-Marie realize that the only way to protect the eldest of their charges is to smuggle them out of France. Relying on Rösli's fierce will and Anne-Marie's knowledge of secret mountain paths, they plot escape routes through vast Nazi-occupied territory to the distant border. Amid staggering risk, Ella and Hanni embark on a journey that, if successful, could change the course of their lives and grant them a future.
Kristin Beck has been captivated by the often unsung roles of women in history ever since growing up hearing her grandmother's stories about her time as a WW II army nurse. A former teacher, she holds a BA in English from the University of Washington and a Master's in Teaching from Western Washington University. Kristin lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.
“A poignant story of courage and sacrifice, The Winter Orphans is another extraordinary novel by Kristin Beck. Based on the powerful true story of the Jewish children who escaped France during the Nazi-occupation and the Red Cross workers who fought to bring them to safety, Beck’s novel is an emotional and resonant page-turner. A beautiful book!”
—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Our Last Days in Barcelona
“Kristin Beck is proving herself to be an author to watch. Following in the footsteps of the wonderful Courage, My Love, her latest, The Winter Orphans, shows what a powerhouse storyteller she is. It’s an extraordinary tale of valor, sacrifice, and true heroism. Warning—tissues are required, but the book is ultimately one that warms the heart and touches the soul.”
—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Riviera House
“A powerfully moving novel about Jewish children escaping from Nazi-occupied France and the brave women who faced insurmountable obstacles to see them to safety. Kristen Beck has crafted an exquisite read that made me laugh one moment, then cry then next with characters so endearing, they left an indelible mark on me. Readers everywhere will love this book!”
—Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Bookshop in London
“Impossible to turn away from . . . an engrossing and heart wrenching tale of courage and survival. This novel solidifies Beck’s place among the best of today’s historical fiction authors.”
—Renée Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces
“A poignant, and riveting story of enduring hope, Kristin Beck pens a brilliant, harrowing tale of the Jewish children protected by the Swiss Red Cross in France during the dangerous occupation of Germans, and the remarkable, brave people who risked their lives to help them escape. With each heart-pounding page, readers will hold onto hope that the children make it to safety. Have your tissues ready, this is a book that will keep you up late into the night just to see what happens next!”
—Eliza Knight, USA Today bestselling author of The Mayfair Bookshop
“An extraordinary tale of courage, strength and heroism. Inspired by true events, The Winter Orphans takes us into WWII’s war-torn France where we fall in love with a group of Jewish refugee children, and the courageous women given the impossible task of protecting them. This story is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit, and a reminder that fighting for those you love, and what you believe in, can make all the difference.”
—Serena Burdick, bestselling author of The Girls with No Names
“Beck offers credible glimpses of the day-to-day lives of the refugees in her redemptive, uplifting story of heroism.”
“Beck’s latest is an engrossing tale of impossible choices, grace, and grit in the perilous depths of war. Skillfully rendered in beautiful prose, the survival stories of Rosli, Ella, and Anne-Marie held me in thrall to the end.”
—Kerri Maher, National Bestselling Author of The Paris Bookseller
“An engaging and emotional story of hope, fear, and bravery…. The prose immediately draws readers into the story and the world-building and atmosphere are so tangible one can feel the terror and the cold.”
—Mystery and Suspense Magazine
“The Winter Orphans had me holding my breath with every page turn. Kristin Beck does an excellent job of reminding us of what every day bravery looks like, and how one person’s decision to do the right thing can keep the flames of hope alive.”
—Kaia Alderson, Author of Sisters in Arms
“Moving and unforgettable, The Winter Orphans is a masterful tale about Red Cross workers in Occupied France whose courage and defiance helped save Jewish children during WW2—and the children who grew up too soon.”
—Janie Chang, Bestselling author of The Library of Legends
“Captivating from the first page, Kristin Beck’s The Winter Orphans captures the heart-thudding terror and bravery of Jewish children trapped within Occupied France—as well as the heroism of those within the Swiss Red Cross who risked it all to bring them to safety. With beautiful prose and unforgettable characters, this is a novel you don’t want to miss.”
—Bryn Turnbull, Author of The Woman Before Wallis
“The Winter Orphans is a flawlessly written book, and readers should make sure to take in the author’s note at the end of the book about these real-life heroines.”
—Chick Lit Central
Praise for Courage, My Love
“An extraordinary debut set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of Rome, Courage, My Love is historical fiction at its finest. With evocative and compulsively readable prose, Beck weaves a gripping tale of love, loss, patriotism, and courage. Powerful, poignant, and timely, Courage, My Love is a must-read.”
—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
"A winning wartime tale set in the snakepit world of Mussolini's Rome. Single mother Lucia and polio-crippled Francesca make appealing heroines, flowering slowly from reticent bystanders to fierce resistance fighters as the Eternal City comes under German occupation. Kristin Beck's debut is a fresh, compelling read."
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress
“Francesca and Lucia are two magnificent women. How could anyone not admire their bravery, their strength, their compassion and their fierce determination to do whatever they could to protect both those they love and the people of Rome from the Nazis sweeping through their beloved city. Courage, My Love is a beautiful story of female friendship, and the unheralded but hugely important Resistance work the women of Rome undertook, in the face of grave danger, during WWII. It’s a fascinating, nuanced and impeccably researched tale.”
—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Orphan
“In Courage, My Love, a deeply moving novel of Italy in the Second World War, Kristin Beck plunges the reader deep into the lives of Lucia and Francesca, two women united at first by circumstance and eventually by friendship. It illuminates, often to heartrending effect, the uncertainty, upheaval, violence and viciousness of the Nazi occupation of Rome; and it portrays, with sensitivity and profound empathy, the many ways in which ordinary people confronted evil with selflessness and true valor. In this wonderful novel, Beck brings a lesser-known chapter of wartime history to vivid life with settings that are perfectly observed, down to the smallest detail, and with characters so imperfectly real they all but jump from the page. Courage, My Love is a beautiful and breathtaking book. It is certainly one of the finest works of World War Two historical fiction I have ever read.”
—Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of The Gown
“Fans of Elena Ferrante and Kristin Hannah will relish this gritty tale of perseverance and resistance set in the Eternal City during World War II. I learned a great deal about the Italian front and the tangled web of friendship and romance kept me turning pages well into the night. A bold and gripping debut.”
—Kerri Maher, Author of The Paris Bookseller
"A profound anthem to the tremendous courage that transformed two ordinary Italian women into extraordinary heroes during the harrowing days of Mussolini and Hitler. A powerful story, powerfully told!"
—Stephanie Marie Thornton, USA Today bestselling author of A Most Clever Girl
“A powerful, moving story that so perfectly captures the turbulent and devastating times in Italy during WWII. Told with compassion and great skill, Kristin Beck draws a vivid portrait of two women, separated from the men they love, who join forces with the resistance. Though set during WWII, many will relate to the strife that comes from having family members with strong political beliefs that don’t align with our own. Beck is a strong, new voice in historical fiction.”
—Renée Rosen, National bestselling author of Park Avenue Summer
“Kristin Beck transports us right into the heart of war-stricken Rome and creates a riveting story about brave women who will stop at nothing to protect the people they love. A tale of resistance, resilience, and friendship—this is exactly the type of historical fiction we need right now. Brava!”
—Elise Hooper, Author of Fast Girls
"A stunning debut....Each page is turned in suspense to find out if the Allies are indeed arriving to force the Germans out of Rome. Kristin Beck’s characters are developed with equal amounts of childhood background, family strife, and political alignments. The secondary characters, Partisans, Nazi sympathizers, and German officers are written with such depth and personal detail that readers will find much to admire or despise, as appropriate."
—Historical Novel Reviews
“The tension never lets up in this gripping tale of WW2 Italy, its narrative set in a Rome occupied by German forces. Amidst the hardships of war, two very different young women confront their fears and draw on their deepest beliefs for the courage to resist. Lucia and Francesca are unforgettable characters and stayed with me long after the final page.”
—Janie Chang, Author of The Library of Legends
“Courage, My Love, is a moving story about how ordinary people can do extraordinary things when working together for good. Beck crafts a tale of both heart-pounding intensity and deep emotional resonance, with characters who will stay with the reader long after the pages are closed. Poignant and beautiful.”
—Erika Robuck, National bestselling author of The Invisible Woman
“Powerful and immensely moving, Kristin Beck’s debut novel plunges readers headlong into the dark days of WWII-era Rome. A beautifully written story of women at war, Courage, My Love will linger with you long after you turn the final page.”
—Bryn Turnbull, Author of The Woman Before Wallis
“Kristin Beck is an exciting new voice in women’s historical fiction with her immersion into the Italian Resistance during WW2. From the first page, Lucia and Francesca will grab you with their hearts and their fire. I haven’t held my breath so much while reading a book in a while.”
—Kaia Alderson, Author of Sisters in Arms
“A riveting, realistic historical novel.”