While I’m awaiting word that the paperback is out for my book, I wanted to share a few of the first kindle book reviews. And more photos of some of the dogs that profits from my books have helped get out of kill shelters. Thank you to everyone who purchased a book, took the time to write a review, and helped spread the word. I’m grateful for your support.
REVIEWS FOR THE SEVEN YEAR DRESS
A masterfully told story of human heartache and triumph
Mahurin has done it once again! This remarkable author has a knack for selecting timely (and timeless) topics infused with ethical significance and populated with unforgettable characters.
Never afraid to tackle difficult, sensitive issues, the author takes us back into one of the most deplorable moments in recent human history—Germany and Hitler’s maniacal attempt at genocide. One might wonder, “Hasn’t enough been written about the Nazis, anti-Semitism and death camps? Aren’t these stories of persecution and death or ultimate survival all, on some level, alike?” The answer is a resounding “No!” And here are the reasons.
The Seven Year Dress is based on the story of a real survivor. While Helen’s story has been fictionalized, elements of this tale actually happened. What part is fact and what part is fiction? I don’t know, but I do know that it all reads as if it did happen. Mahurin balances agony with elation, pain with pleasure. How much more true to life can that be? This tale of a woman’s life is told and, in the telling, she is remembered, honored, and her humanity (once ripped from her) is restored. That is why we tell stories and why we should read them.
While reading Mahurin’s book, I was surprised by the intimacy—sexual needs that the characters expressed and acted upon—while either in hiding or imprisoned. Of all the books on the Holocaust I’ve read, I have never encountered any mention of carnal desires among the prisoners. At first, I wondered how anyone could have sexual longings while fearing for their lives; but it makes perfect sense. These people were stripped of their identity in these camps. Clinging to what little they could claim as their own (their bodies) would have been important to them. I began to think differently about how people survive in desperate situations and what it means to be truly human. Isn’t that the definition of an outstanding book—it gets the reader to think differently?
Finally, as a culture and a human race, we can never be reminded too frequently how hatred and fear can turn a civilized country into something deplorable. Helen’s story is a poignant aide-mémoire to all of us about being socially aware and personally vigilant. “Life is precious.” Helen learns this from her father. “Nothing lasts.” Helen learns this from her experiences. I learned many lessons from this extraordinary book by an award-winning author. What will you learn?
History will never fade from sight when poignant, powerful books like this are written. The story is not new. WW2 happened, Hitler was as depicted, the Jews were persecuted, and millions were killed. However, Ms Mahurin has brought a deeply personal and heart wrenching story, which managed to shock, surprise, and engross this reader.
Helen Stein, a young Jewish girl, takes centre stage as she looks back over the turbulent and tragic war years. Her relationships with family and friends are beautifully depicted, and emotionally powerful. It is an addictive story, which the author did not coat with sugar. Instead she deftly led the me on a journey of love and hatred, and I learned a lot from a story that was confidently told and thoroughly researched. A five star thumbs up from me.
By Carmen Stefanescu on May 16, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not an easy book, if only because the situation depicted is so dreadful, but Ms. Mahurin has a nice writing style and a sensitive point of view. She weaves, in The Seven Year Dress, a story of the weakness and the strength of the human spirit.
The Seven Year Dress delves a little deeper into the human condition than in the author’s last novel, but still with the same themes of hope, despair, love, resilience and redemption.
The author focuses on Hitler’s Germany and the ruthless regime that swept across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. While the descriptions are horribly realistic, the characters are not one dimensional.
The author’s research was done very well. She has such a way of describing how the characters felt in so many situations. The story flows effortlessly with Helen Stein’s voice. Helen, a beautiful Jewish teenager trapped in a situation she has been forced to endure. It was a sick time in history, and I think books like this are important, because history does repeat itself. The more people who are horrified by the hatred, racism, and resulting unbelievable cruelty and disregard for human life, the more people there will be who will try to break the cycle of history.
The Seven Year Dress is not by any means a treatise on the Holocaust. It is one person’s observation, interpretation, and experience. It isn’t the Holocaust that comes alive in this book. Helen, the survivor, comes alive.
I cringed inside reading about all that Helen had to suffer, though I previously read books and watched movies on the same topic.
A touching moment is the one when Helen, after staying hidden for a long time, receives a dress from Max. „This dress was a symbol of normalcy, my femininity, and my past,” Helen says. I cried reading those pages, which is one of the signs of a good book.
The background characters, Ben, Max, Helen’s parents, Ester were equally important.
Author Paulette Mahurin, via Helen’s story, pulls no punches in descriptions of the horror and human tragedy that befell not only the European Jews but also millions of other people whose “crime” was that they were non-Aryan, elderly, sick, political prisoners, or disabled, and therefore, unfit to live.
All in all, The Seven Year Dress is gripping, heartbreaking, but beautiful.
The Seven Year Dress is a story that will remain with me for some time. Books about the Holocaust are numerous and varied but nothing has moved me more than the main character’s story – Helen Stein-in this latest work from Paulette Mahurin. The author examines quite a few issues in this story, sexuality, relationships, personal suffering and hope to name but a few.
Through the words of Helen Stein we gain an understanding of a life lived in a concentration camp. We also get to know and understand how strength, hope, and self preservation can overcome the most horrendous life imaginable.
Paulette Mahurin shows great writing skills and character building in The Seven Year Dress. The narrative and the story will pull at your heart strings. Mahurin is a talented author and proves this by writing a story with very few characters in it but the The Seven Year Dress is a full, in depth and complete narrative that makes it compulsive reading.
By Molly Flanders on May 16, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Following her childhood in the 1920s and 1930s she grows up in a world that gradually closes in on her and her family and friends. Well researched and with great historical detail the book lets us witness the loss of ease and liberties as the unthinkable really happens.
Mahurin has chosen a great character: complex, clever and naive, fragile and resilient.
Excellently chosen side characters and ‘side-issues’ widen the field and make this all the more rewarding and stimulating a read. You know some of what will happen but there is enough unknown to make this an addictive and compelling read.
I was in awe of the powerful ending, the message of humanity and the survival of the human spirit. In fact, the entire book is powerful, from the tense prologue to the last word of the epilogue.
Much food for thought and very worthwhile your time.
By curly on May 13, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
From a good life in Berlin, to the seclusion of a cellar in a
friend’s farm, to Auschwitz comes scene after scene of the
unthinkable intolerance and persecution levied not just against
the protagonist in this story but an entire race. The Jewish
population. Mahurin doesn’t hold back in description and
bringing the reader into the cruelty and horrors that took place
for anyone who protested against the regime and its leader. In
one of the darkest times in world history there are also
thousands of lights that shine and illuminate: those who
selflessly help, those who dare to endure and survive, those
who continued on with living when it seemed like being alive
was a hellish nightmare; the heroes sung and unsung are
brought to view in this incredible story. Masterfully told, I
couldn’t put it down. ARC was given to me for an honest review.
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Lorna Lee‘s review
Never one to shy away from difficult and important topics, Mahurin has bestowed upon the reading public yet another compelling novel that will appeal to a wide range of audiences: history buffs, humanitarians, anyone who enjoys reading a story with complex characters and a griping plot.
When I read The Seven Year Dress, I was reminded of the slogan, “The personal is the political.” This novel is based on the true story of a Holocaust survivor, Helen. Through her story, from living a simple life of contentment with her family in Berlin to her horrifying interment in Auschwitz, I came to understand how seemingly distant political machinations can rain down on a person’s life, altering it in inconceivable ways. Conversely, moment-by-moment decisions of individuals (Helen, Ben, Max, Ester, to name but a few) impact the trajectory of their lives and the lives of countless others. The novel is both a tribute to Helen’s perseverance (the personal) and a reminder about what can happen to societies when hatred runs amok (the political).
The Seven Year Dress does something that, in my opinion, other novels and treatises on the Holocaust do not. Mahurin invites us into the most intimate thoughts, emotions, and desires of her protagonist and other characters with whom Helen shared her journey. The topic of intimacy is raised in a number of ways throughout the book. In this way, Mahurin imbues her characters and her novel with an authenticity I have rarely seen in these types of novels. She handles this area of human experience with delicacy, respect, and veracity. For example, Helen is a young woman who yearns for the comfort of a lover’s attention; instead she must find private ways to handle her needs because she is in hiding from the Nazis. Or her best friend who remains loyal to her, Max (a member of the Hitler Youth, then a full-fledged Nazi), is gay but only shares his secret with Helen. Before reading this novel, I never thought about any of the prisoners having (or wanting) a sex life or any of the Nazis having sexual secrets they needed to keep.
Did Mahurin set out to write a book simply to tell Helen’s story and write a book reminding us of the consequences of hatred combined with absolute power? Or did Mahurin set out to write a book about man’s inhumanity to man using Helen’s story as a vehicle and write a compassionate portrait of a cadre of commendable, unforgettable characters who taught me about living, hope, and love because of their suffering? Does it really matter? I’m just glad she wrote The Seven Year Dress and can’t wait for the next book!
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