Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Book Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

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51aU2aUYISL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Author: Kristy Cambron

Series: #1 in the Hidden Masterpiece Series

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 15, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1401690599

ISBN-13: 978-1401690595

Amazon // Goodreads // Excerpt

Book Synopsis:

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz–and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover–the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul–who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

My Thoughts:

I must admit, I added this book to my Goodreads TBR list without even reading the book synopsis… I took one look at that cover and I was sold!  I hate the fact that I’m such a sucker for a pretty cover… actually, no I don’t 🙂

I really wish I had been able to get this review done in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which took place on Thursday, May 5th.  When I started reading The Butterfly and the Violin, I had no idea about IHRD or when it took place.  Only when I was doing some research about the Holocaust did I stumble upon IHRD.  I thought it was a wonderful coincidence that I finished this book so close to a international remembrance day for the period of history in which the book takes place.  I wish I could say that I planed it, but alas, I’m not that clever 🙂

I am fascinated with books set during WWII.  It is definitely one of my favorite periods of history to learn about, specifically  Nazi Regime and the Holocaust.  I remember reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank while in grade school.  From that point on, I vowed to learn more about these horrific events.  I think it’s important to keep educating ourselves and our children about the Holocaust, so that the lives of over 6 million people and what they were forced to endure is never forgotten.

The Butterfly and the Violin is one of those stories that moves back and forth between the present and the past.  Sera James, an art galley owner in New York, is on a mission to locate the whereabouts of a mysterious painting of a woman with a violin.  A woman named Adele…

Adele Von Bron, “Austria’s sweetheart,” is a famous violinist and daughter to a high ranking Nazi official.  When Adele risks everything to help a Jewish family flee Vienna, disaster strikes.  In the blink of an eye, the course of Adele’s life is forever changed.  One moment Adele is playing on stage with the Vienna Philharmonic, the next she is aboard a train bound to Auschwitz.  When she arrives, she is drafted to become one of the first members of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz.

 I never knew that there was music allowed  within the walls of Auschwitz, let alone an orchestra. I really enjoy books that teach you little known facts and give a new perspective on major events in history.  The Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz was almost the “upper class” of the concentration camp.  Their living conditions, while oppressive and insufferable, seemed to be better than the living conditions of the general population.  You can learn more about music within concentration camps here → Music and the Holocaust

This was such a different take on the Holocaust.  The Butterfly and the Violin was unlike any Holocaust fiction that I had ever read before.  Usually when you think of Holocaust fiction, war and gruesome depictions inside of concentration camps come to mind.  While there was no shortage of appalling depictions of life inside Auschwitz, this book was a “lighter” telling.  It is really hard to put into words the essence of this book.  Whereas most books about the Holocaust will focus on the brutality, The Butterfly and the Violin was more about hope, faith, and inner strength.

I’m not one to read books that are overly religious in nature, as I feel they can sometimes come off too strong, or that they are “selling” it.  There are many religious undertones throughout the book, however I felt it was not overdone or “pushy.”  It was actually refreshing and uplifting.

The romance between Adele and her love interest was sweet and pure.  It really enhanced the plot without taking over.  I’m not a fan of when the romance takes over the storyline, turning a historical fiction into a historical romance… Cambron had just the right amount of historical and romantic elements.

Adele’s story, was both captivating and beautiful, however I found myself detached from Sera and the events that were taking place during present day.  The two stories did not flow well together.  Sera’s story was more focused on a complicated new romance with the man who hires her to locate the picture of Adele.  In my opinion, had Sera’s story focused more on uncovering Adele’s story, and less on the romance, it would have worked better.  Unfortunately, I just found myself indifferent to Sera and her story.

I listen to The Butterfly and the Violin via audiobook. It is narrated by Carrington MacDuffie.  While I think the narrator did a wonderful job with the accents, however for me she wasn’t an exceptional narrator… I’m not sure what it was exactly, but she almost seemed to rush through parts of the story.  She also didn’t pause where I felt she should have.  She was by  no means a bad narrator, actually I think it got better over time.  Maybe I’m just being too picky.

Despite the disconnect with Sera’s story and the narrator, I really enjoyed this book!  I LOVE books that intertwine literature and art.  The passages about the painting, and the depictions of Adele playing her violin were pure magic for me.  I could see the painting.  I could hear the music.  Cambron is definitely a talented writer.  I could feel the passion the author has for art.  I was not surprised in the least to learn Cambron has a degree in art history.

Bottom Line:  The Butterfly and the Violin is a beautiful and fresh perspective of one girl’s experiences during the Holocaust.  It is a story of hope, faith, and inner strength. The is writing is excellent, and makes the art within the book come alive.

Noteworthy Quotes:

“And she felt the beauty in the music now, drank it in with tears streaming down her face. Never had she been so naked in worship before her Creator, allowing the adoration to bleed out her very fingertips onto the strings, playing her heart’s cry for every single lost soul, for the loss of innocence every generation to come would possess as a result of what happened at the killing fields of Auschwitz.”

“God plants the talent and it grows, sustained by a spirit-given strength to endure, even in the midst of darkness. It thrives in the valleys of life and ignores the peaks. It blooms like a flower when cradled by the warmth of the sun. It remains in a hidden stairwell in a concentration camp. It grows, fed in secret, in the heart of every artist.”

 My Rating:

Star ratings (3)

 Book Recommendations if you enjoyed The Butterfly and the Violin:

» Girl with the Pearl Earing by Tracy Chevalier

» The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes → Book Review: The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

» The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan → Book Review: The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

About the Author:

kristyKristy is a Speaker and Design Manager at The GROVE storytelling ministry, and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She also has nearly 15 years experience in instructional design, corporate training and communications for a Fortune-100 Corporation. Kristy  lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron”

  1. I am not the type of person – like you – who likes books about war, b/c I prefer peace 😀 I mean yeah, but sometimes they’re so hard to read – emotionally – that I can barely turn the pages… I do love classics though (historical fiction). Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think reading books with hard topics like war helps to put things into perspective for me. It makes me appreciate my life, and think about those who have endured things that I (hopefully) will never have to endure.


  2. Yay I’m so glad you read this!! And that you enjoyed it 🙂 I had no idea about the music thing either – how crazy is that? I’m really keen to read the other companion books (I think that’s what they are) in this series because I really enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The next book A Sparrow in Terezin is available on Hoopla, where I download digital audiobooks through my library, but when I read the synopsis I saw it was about Sera and William but didn’t see any historical component… Since I didn’t really connect much with their story, I’m nervous that I won’t like it… How about you read it and let me know how it is? 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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