I’m happy to share my review for a historical novel The Helsingor Sewing Club by Ella Gyland. I read this on Holocaust Memorial Day making it more poignant and hard hitting.
Book Review: The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland
Title: The Helsingør Sewing Club
Author: Ella Gyland
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Historical fiction
Release Date: 31st Jan 2022
Inspired by the incredible true story of how the people of Denmark saved their Jewish neighbours during WW2
Helsingør, Denmark, 1943
In the midst of the German occupation during World War Two, Inger Bredahl joins the underground resistance and risks her life to save members of Denmark’s Jewish community and help them escape to Sweden.
Inger’s granddaughter, Cecilie Lund, is mourning her death when a mysterious discovery while cleaning out Inger’s flat leads past and present to intersect. As long-held secrets finally see the light of day, Cecilie learns the story of her grandmother’s courage and bravery, and of the power of friendship, love, and standing for what’s right…even when you have everything to lose.
An inspiring tale of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community.
This fascinating dual timeline novel showcased the bravery of the Danes in the second world war and their determination to protect and help the Jewish community against the Nazi regime. It was a revelation to me that 90% of Dutch Jews survived. Along with my recent reading of The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews, this story has made me have great respect for the Danes and provided me with hope that there is a good in humanity.
In both time periods, there was a good sense of place allowing me to visualise the locations and added to my desire to visit Denmark and Copenhagan. Like many dual timelines, I was drawn to one protagonist’s voice than the other and it was Inger and her comrades that won here. I wanted to know more about Bodil and Gudrun so would have been happy to read this story as a single timeline. This would allowed more space to be devoted to them and dig deeper into the resistance movement. I wanted to feel more emotionally connected to them all as I felt I was being kept as an observer rather than in their heads. This detachment did help me cope when the expected dark themes were discussed.
With the title The Helsingør Sewing Club I kept expecting to hear about sewing machines and thread but only discovered why it was called that towards the end so to save you scratching your heads while reading, Helsingør Sewing Club was a code name for the resistance. If the community’s phones were tapped it would sound as if they were discussing the village’s sewing circle.
Would I recommend?
Yes, this novel gives an inspiring account of a side of the war I knew little about and made me see the good in humanity when often it is hidden. It provides a springboard to discover more and will be enjoyed by those who love historical fiction based in the world wars.
Originally from Denmark, I have lived in London for many years, surrounded by my family, cats, books and the Scandinavian hygge I try to create everywhere I go. As a linguist I love playing with words and language, and I am addicted to story-telling. I also believe strongly in social responsibility and sustainable living.
Social Media Links
Twitter: Ella/Henriette Gyland, @henrigyland
Thank you, Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.