Liz Tolsma’s newest book The Melody of the Soul, takes place during World War II in Prague, the capitol city of Czechoslovakia, at the onset of Nazi occupation. The book opens with the heroine, whose name is Anna Zadok, saying good-bye to her family. They received deportation papers, but Anna and her grandmother did not, so the two women stay behind in the family’s apartment. It is Anna’s job to protect her ailing grandmother, so she must rely on smuggled food rations while living in daily fear of the soldiers that dominate the streets of Prague.
A German officer by the name of Horst Engel moves into the same building. He develops a growing sympathy for Anna and her situation because he hears her play the violin. The music stirs memories for him of his own mother. They attended symphony concerts together when Horst was a child. Now he is in the military serving the Nazi cause at his father’s insistence and questioning if this is the best place for him.
Anna’s love for music and her accomplished skill on the violin sustains her through the dark days of grief after finding out what happened to her family. The music also brings her and Horst together by soothing them and helping them make painful decisions. The title for this book, The Melody of the Soul, is symbolic for the deep faith that operates in a person’s life in the same way the music did in the lives of Anna and Horst.
A poignant scene is included in the book about a group of men who are musicians that play stringed instruments. They put together an ensemble and play music even while imprisoned. This scene further illustrates the symbolism between music and faith that runs throughout this novel.
As a musician myself, I appreciated the references to the song titles and descriptions of the emotions the music produced. Liz’s style is engaging and easy to read. The pacing is swift because of the high action and tension that drives the story. There is also a note of comfort that accompanies the theme of faith found in the words of the grandmother when she is reminding Anna that God will provide for them. And he does.
Liz does a nice job showing that through the risks taken and the dangers averted, God’s protection over Anna and her grandmother never ceases.
I experienced this book as hopeful yet horrifying. Comforting, yet haunting. I grieved the injustices of war while looking into my own heart for the courage of Horst Engel to make a difference, even in the life of one person.
I received this book as a complimentary copy for the purposes of reviewing.