#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · historical fiction · World War II

New Release Book Review: The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer

Title: The Warsaw Orphan

Author: Kelly Rimmer

Published: April 31st 2021

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 416

Genres: Fiction, Historical

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 5 stars

Inspired by the real-life heroine who smuggled thousands of Jewish children to safety during WWII, the powerful new novel by the New York Times bestselling author

In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. But she has no idea what goes on behind the walls of the Jewish Ghetto nearby until she makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Elzbieta comes face to face with the plight of the Gorka family who must give up their newborn daughter – or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs in him a rebellion not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. His recklessness puts their families in harm’s way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever.

Kelly Rimmer, bestselling Australian author of Truths I Never Told You and The Things We Cannot Say, has penned her most meticulously researched and emotionally compelling novel to date.


“You and I? We are doomed. We will die at the hands of the Germans, if not in here, then at Treblinka. But the children …?” He shook his head at me, frustration flaring his nostrils. “Those children could survive if you and your parents allow them to.”

Kelly Rimmer is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA today bestselling author. This doesn’t surprise me at all, as Kelly Rimmer has proved time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned with in the historical fiction field. The Warsaw Orphan is another success story. A tale that is built from the foundations of real-life figures and their moving experiences, The Warsaw Orphan is an emotional journey not to be missed.

Opening in the spring of 1942, we meet Elzbieta Rabinek, a young woman with her head on her shoulders, who is acutely aware of the escalating situation surrounding her Warsaw home. When Elzbieta learns of the dangerous and unjust activities happening in the ghetto close by to her home she decides to take drastic action. Elzbieta becomes directly involved in the fate of a family who are faced with an unthinkable and heartbreaking decision to safeguard a baby’s life. Complicating issues further is Elzbieta’s growing love for Roman Gorka, which sets in motion turmoil, injustice, sacrifice, harmful actions and tough decisions. Can Roman and Elzbieta find both love and freedom despite the chaos of war?

Kelly Rimmer is a central figure in a small circle of authors that I implicitly trust to pen a respectful, well informed and heartbreaking journey of wartime heroism. This well-regarded Australian author has composed yet another truly incredible tale that I know will stay with me for some time to come. The Warsaw Orphan is an affective novel that will haunt you – in a good way, long after closing the final page. Kelly Rimmer’s latest triumph features a story that we need to be conscious of sharing, for the interests of current and future generations. We must strive to breathe more life into these brave and selfless acts of wartime survival, such as the story circulated in The Warsaw Orphan.

There is absolutely no level of doubt into regards to the research efforts Kelly Rimmer has directed to The Warsaw Orphan. Drawn from real life experiences and figures, The Warsaw Orphan is a fictional narrative grounded in reality. As a result, Kelly Rimmer’s tale takes on a new level of historical brevity. This is a story that settles deep in your soul, it does makes you feel uncomfortable, scared and ashamed, but it is essential that we as readers invest the time in reading stories such as The Warsaw Orphan. So many of the passages in this novel transported me to this very difficult time and place. I felt fear, anger, disappointment and shame. However, I also acquired a sense of hope, respect, admiration and inspiration for the selfless actions that we bear witness to in this very special novel.

I was surprised to uncover yet another chapter and element to the Second World War surrounding the Warsaw ghetto experience that I was previously not aware of until I read Kelly Rimmer’s new novel. With so many years and time spent reading a wide range of Second World War material, it was a valuable experience to encounter yet another aspect of the war that I did not know about. Rimmer does an excellent job of exposing some truly appalling but truthful atrocities that occurred over the course of the WWII time period. Many scenes in this novel made me teary and churned my stomach, especially knowing that the experiences outlined in this novel were very real. The Warsaw Orphan is both eye opening, and utterly compelling. Kelly Rimmer has composed a novel of high merit.

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer is published by Hachette Australia on April 28th 2021. $32.99.


To learn more about the author of The Warsaw Orphan, Kelly Rimmer visit here.

*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Warsaw Orphan is book #52 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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