The Butterfly and the Violin
By Kristy Cambron
Hidden Masterpiece #1
Thomas Nelson, 2014
Today. Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.
Vienna, 1942. Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family’s tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.
The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?
As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait—Adele—they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.
The Butterfly and the Violin is one of the most moving stories I have ever read, and there's no way my words can adequately describe it. After turning the last page, I had to ask myself, Who are you, Kristy Cambron? WWII historian, student of fine art, musician extraordinaire, romantic, world traveler, wordsmith, a worshipper completely in tune with God - all of these could very well describe Kristy because each element is embodied in her beautifully crafted story. Kristy's words grabbed my heart from the beginning and I don't think I will ever forget these characters.
Only once before have I described a novel as having the Wow! factor, but I do it here without hesitation. Plot, setting, characters and writing style all combine to make this story a riveting, mesmeric read. This novel should appeal to historical romance fans, but it goes so much deeper than that in its theme of survival and hope. The use of contrast was haunting - beauty in the midst of evil, hope in the midst of darkness, and the use of a gift to bring God glory vs. the effort to only survive.
I don't often read stories that involve the Holocaust because I just have a hard time with the extremes to which mankind's unfathomable cruelty can reach, but Kristy does several things that made this a hard-to-put-down read. First, the scenes that take place at Auschwitz are not exceptionally graphic, yet the pictures are real, vividly clear, and chilling. While traveling in a cattle car to Auschwitz, Adele reflects with these poignant words: "Mothers. Lost sons. Violinists who had no concept of the real world before that moment. Daughters. Frightened families. So many strangers. They were all packed in together, young and old, never having met but oddly connected by their crossed paths on this terrible, frightening journey."
Secondly, two connected stories are woven together in The Butterfly and the Violin - the story of Adele Von Bron, the ethereal violinist whose eyes are opened to the harshness of the Holocaust, and that of Sera James, a modern-day NYC gallery owner searching for Adele's haunting portrait. Sera and William's story is lighter, romantic, and humorous - and I welcomed the breathing space it provided from the dark and intense story of Adele and Vladimir. Both stories have heroes and tender romantic elements that I loved.
Another factor is the way musical themes were woven throughout. I've been a worship musician almost all my life and could so easily relate when Adele reflects how music was "her act of worship to her Creator" and how it carried her into communion with God. But as the Auschwitz Orchestra played for the laborers marching out in the morning and those returning at night - or for the arrival of the trains - Adele's playing took on a different meaning: "She'd play for the world's loss of innocence and the coldness of hate that fought to overshadow the love she knew to be born of God."
Most moving of all is the theme of God's love and constant presence, regardless of circumstance or what we might perceive as unanswered prayer. You don't have to look very hard to find Jesus Christ in this narrative, and it always seems that our faith grows stronger when we have nowhere else to turn. Omara, who was like a den mother to the orchestra girls, was an unforgettable character. She came to love Adele like a daughter, and I'll end with her moving words:
"This, child, is our worship. To live and survive and play to God from the depths of our souls. This is the call that binds us. When we worship in the good times, it brings God joy. But worship in the midst of agony? That is authentic adoration of our Creator."
The Butterfly and the Violin is a masterpiece to which I give my highest recommendation.
A Sparrow in Terezin, the next book in the Hidden Masterpiece series, comes out in April 2015.
The Butterfly and the Violin can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon.
Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.
Meet Kristy online at kristycambron.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. For more information, visit the Litfuse blog tour page.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.