Steffen Petersen pastors a Lutheran church in 1943 Denmark. He likes safety and predictability and thinks if everyone just lays low and cooperates with the German occupiers, everything will blow over soon.
A bicycle accident lands him in the hospital under the care of Jewish nurse Hanne Abrahamsen who mistakenly thinks he is part of the Danish resistance movement and protects him from the questions of a German officer. Steffen’s brother is a part of the Resistance and comes to take his brother out of the hospital. They have many arguments about the right way to respond to the troubles in their country.
But when Steffen comes face to face with the need to smuggle Jewish citizens out of the country before the Germans whisk them off to camps or worse, he cannot help but aid them.
Hanne is instrumental in aiding them as well but stays behind to help at the hospital. But with an ambitious German officer in charge in the town, can Hanne remain undetected, and can Steffen help her if she is captured?
I first came across Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer when the Kindle version came up for free. I’ve often said that those free Kindle app books are a great way to try new authors, and this is one case when reading one book through that route led me to exploring the author’s other books and wanting to put many of them on my wish list.
I liked many aspects of this book. I’ve read many WWII-era novels and biographies, but never one set in Denmark as this one is. That added a fresh perspective. The author shares at the end that many of the details and incidents are based on real-life happenings. There is humor sprinkled throughout which counterbalances the grimness of the circumstances. The deepening relationship between Hanne and Steffen, her growing attraction to his Savior, their individual personal growth, the new vibrancy that comes into his own life and ministry, are all unfolded and blended very nicely. There is a sweetness to all of it amidst the danger — not saccharin, not overly done, but the same effect as….finding lovely wildflowers in a prison camp.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)