Review: Charlotte (A Novel)



The gorgeous, haunting, and ultimately redemptive bestselling French novel, recounting the tragic life of artistic visionary Charlotte Salomon, who died in Nazi gas chambers at the age of 26

Two artists, two obsessions. Charlotte Salomon―born in pre-World War II Berlin to a Jewish family traumatized by suicide―was obsessed with art, and with living. She attended school in Germany until it was too dangerous to remain, fled to France, and was interned in a bleak work camp from which she narrowly escaped. Newly free, she spent two years in almost total solitude, creating a series of autobiographical pictures―images, words, even musical scores―which together tell her life story. The result is a unique, relentlessly complete artistic expression. In 1943, a pregnant Charlotte was taken to Auschwitz and gassed, but not before she entrusted her life’s work to a friend, who kept it safe until peacetime. Entitled Life? Or Theatre?, it was exhibited in fragments in the 1960s; a 1998 exhibition of the complete work in the London Royal Academy became a sensation and eventually published in book form.

David Foenkinos, himself obsessed with Charlotte, has written his own utterly original tribute to her tragic life and transcendent art. His novel is the result of a long-cherished desire to pay tribute to this young artist. Written with passion, life, humor, and intelligent observation, Charlotte, with rights sold in 12 countries and over 500,000 copies in print in France, is a triumph of creative expression, a monument to genius stilled too soon, and an ode to the will to survive.

Rating: 5 stars


Charlotte by David Foenkinos is a historical fiction novel that will take readers deep into the heart of history that still leaves a terrible mark everywhere. It’s World War II and a young woman with a love of art tries to stay alive during a troubled time. A time when all Jews, like herself, were being rounded up, tortured and killed.  Readers are brilliantly taken back in time and get to follow Charlotte Salomon as she goes about her life during the worst moments in World History. A narrow escape from a camp will set readers hearts into a frenzy and will keep them on the edge of their seats as they continue this woman’s journey. For fans of Anne Frank, this is indeed a must-read novel for all.

David Foenkinos has stunningly recaptured the dark time period popularly known as World War II. His words will automatically send readers on a haunted path to fear, danger, and even death. The scenes were so real I felt as though I were indeed there experiencing everything with my own eyes, ears, and heart. I felt the panic and incredible fear as the young woman went about trying to live her life and staying away from death. But as we all known, once we have been marked it stays with us until our fates are met. A sad but realistic tale that is a tribute to the brave woman, Charlotte Salomon. The evils of World War II will forever haunt readers and the shocking but real truth of what went on will keep readers lured in until the last page. David Foenkinos’s novel, Charlotte, is one that I highly recommend to readers worldwide. His words are beautifully told in a way that will captivate his audience for ages to come.

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