About the Book
Book: The Refrain Within
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: WWII Fiction
Release Date: September 29, 2020
To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?
Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.
Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing–and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?
When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her–and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .
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“Which sin was worse- murder or lying?” So wonders Bognar Éva in The Refrain Within, a Christian WWII novel by Liz Tolsma. Musician Éva sees life’s choices as being very clear and decisive, with no middle ground. As the Germans oppress Hungarians daily, Éva doesn’t understand all the reasons the Gestapo is after her sister-in-law. When her fiancé, Kedves Patrik is not the person Éva thought, whom will Éva be able to trust?
This is a novel so moving and haunting that I sped through it as it made my blood run cold. I had to find out what would happen before the suspense, so palpable, was my undoing. Families being torn apart ripped at my own soul. The reality and historical accuracy is spot on. The warmth of the music was a fitting counterpoint to the cold reality of spies and war.
I loved the fact that there were Messianic Jews in the story. Hope, faith, betrayal, forgiveness, and love- truly beautiful love- shone against a dismal backdrop of occupied Hungary. Those who enjoy inspirational WWII fiction will not want to miss The Refrain Within.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which represent only my opinions.
About the Author
Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.
More from Liz
This is the third book in a series all set around music. The first heroine, Anna in The Melody of the Soul, was a violinist. The second heroine, Natia in When the Heart Sings, sang beautifully. So what did I choose for this heroine?
When I was in fifth grade, the band teacher from the middle school came to our class and encouraged us to join. She brought instruments with her for us to try. I really wanted to play the flute. I thought it was very feminine. But all the girls wanted to play that, and I would have to be really good to get a good chair. So I decided on the clarinet. I played all through middle school and high school, making first chair a couple of times. I participated in marching band and in solo and ensemble contests, earning a couple of first places in state competitions. Even after my “career” ended, I continued to play from time to time. I still play in church. I love the rich, full sound of the instrument. When played well, the clarinet is beautiful. It can be playful and happy or dark and sad. It can skip and it can cry. I’m very glad now that I chose the clarinet instead of the flute.
That’s why the heroine of The Refrain Within plays the clarinet. In fact, she comes from a family of clarinet makers, and her family stamp on the barrel of a clarinet means a great deal to her. As God would have it, my editor, Janyre Tromp, is also a clarinet player. Between the two of us, we worked hard bring out the unique aspects of playing clarinet, like the callous that forms on the inside of your bottom lip.
Eva is a special character to me because we share this passion for the clarinet. There have been many times throughout my life that my clarinet has skipped with me and plenty of times when it has cried with me. Music is God’s beautiful gift to us, and I thank Him for the opportunity to share some of that with you in The Refrain Within.
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