Out of Poland
* Michelle Birch: I've just finished your book. I'm awed, humbled, inspired, chastened. What a remarkable, heart-filled, well researched, powerful, sensitive, beautiful work of compassion! I don't want to muddy the waters with too many words; but I want you to know that I think it's one of the best books I've ever read. What a gift you've crafted for so many people, Jenny! Wow. ❤️
* Shirley-Anne Ayers: I curled up on my couch and stayed there until I finished the book. Jenny Harrison, your 'Out of Poland' is an amazing read and so well crafted by an expert. Thank you.
* Ann R: Now I understand why this was such a difficult book for you to write. You have told the family's story with integrity, humblness and truth. Not a pretty story due to the topic, but one that has helped me to understand the plight of the Jewish community in Poland more fully. You have done an amazing job getting this book to print - a tragic story told beautifully. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. I hope many, many people read it. Thank you for sharing this story.
Bev R: ... bloody well done on a powerful and impeccably research piece of work! The historical facts are dramatic by the present day effects are equally riveting as you go through the process of writing and dealing with the family. Great human interest.
Bev R: I think you’ve done a great job of the book and it stands as a strong testament to the lost souls who need to be remembered. You’ve been deeply respectful of the family and they should be proud of your work.
Brenda G: Culture, fiction and fact collide as Jenny Harrison takes us on an emotional journey as she sensitively tells the story of one man, family, city and country caught in unspeakable events that precipitated WWII. Part detective story, she draws together fragmented and scanty evidence found in a hidden suitcase, symbolic of a family torn apart. Bit by bit she uncovers the story of Naftali Siegel. Speaking her truth quietly, Jenny shows that speaking of the unspeakable is an essential first step in healing of deep emotional wounds.
Amazon Customer: Superb! Brilliant book that opened my eyes and showed me things I never even considered. Very well written!
John R (Amazon): Five Stars. Well written and well researched on relations of Jews and Poles over centuries
Ken J: The book to say the least is so interesting I could not put it down. I gave it to a friend whose grandfather was German and had, I think, relatives in Poland and he found it the same, so enthralling.
Gavin (An Amazon reader who gave it 5 stars): This is a fascinating, well researched and well written story that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading into the early hours of the morning to see how the lives of the Siegel family will unfold. This is a story of Naftali, his family but also a story of the author's research and interaction with the family. A riveting read that I couldn't put down till the last page was turned.
In a review on the Bronwyn Elsemore website www.flaxroots.com dated April 2017:
Out of Poland: when the best revenge is to have survived
by Jenny Harrison
Recently, I find myself drawn more often to stories of the Holocaust, and reading a book like this, Out of Poland, by Jenny Harrison only speeds up my journey.
Right from the start, Harrison sets the scene to this true story.
A small family of Polish Jewish descendants, in New Zealand, discover a suitcase, which reveals some very interesting letters. The question is asked, Why did Nafthali Siegel keep these letters if he was running from a past so painful as described in this work? Why didn't he burn the letters from his parents and siblings, and wipe out his family and past? They were all he had to remind him of them, the letters and one solitary photograph.
All history teachings aside, and they are great in number and diverse, the carnage and devastation committed on Poland, Jews and Gentiles alike, is so utterly absolute.
Astonishing are the sheer numbers of people slaughtered. Astonishing are the vast number who lent a hand, at their own peril, to help a fellow man. The Jews who survived in Poland, owe their lives to Polish Gentiles.
"...It was probably better to be a slave in communist Russia than a victim of the Germans. The Russians were not anti-Semitic, they just treated everyone equally badly."
The heart that has gone into researching and writing this book deserves the best applause. It is so well-written and easy to read, the history and all its horror comes alive.
In the end, I am left speechless...
Review by Poppy
In 2018 I entered this book in the Writers' Digest Self-published Book Awards. It didn't win but the review was nothing short of amazing. Here it is:
This story of a Jewish family in Poland before, during and after World War II is riveting in its depiction of their dreadful experiences. The author, who isn’t Jewish, is very adept in presenting her insights into the minds of the family as they make different decisions to escape the Holocaust. Searing and stark elements of love, loyalty and bravery come into devastating focus. The role of some Poles in helping Jewish families is extolled. Many items, such as letters, documents and receipts found in a long overlooked suitcase, are used to show the plights of family members and how they struggled with many still winding up in life-ending Nazi concentration camps. Glimpses of life in Poland during this extended period are realistic and gripping. An overview of the history of Poland during the prelude to the world war provides a useful background. Polish destinations, especially the town of Pruchnik here the family lived, are vividly described. Stints in Australia and New Zealand where one key family escaped to are also shown. The writing, whether by the author or family members, is first-person and filled with perceptions that show the growing horror of their predicament. The horrors of descending doom as the Germans occupy Poland, and then split the country with the Soviet Union, fill the pages. All the the quotes add to the painful drama. Touching photos embellish the often sad text. A family free and a map of Poland in 1939 are excellent features. A roster of sources and bibliography round out another revealing story of the Holocaust and how it affected one family’s lives and fortunes. The title and subtitles, plus the cover images, are deeply reflective of the book’s contents,
THE LIVES OF ALICE POTHRON
"A fabulous true story with a surprising ending. Written with sincerity - once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down! I would happily recommend this book to anyone - there is so much more to Alice's story than difficulty and despair during the Second World War. It is also a story of courage and hope, and the writer leaves one with the feeling that even in the darkest of times truly wonderful things can happen."
- Ann Rynbeck, Auckland, New Zealand
AN OPTIMISTIC AND PERFECTLY WRITTEN BOOK
- Eva Scherer, MNZ, NZRS, AMTA
The book, The Lives of Alice Pothron, has three levels of narration which link the story of individual, the time and the political arena. It dramatically shows us how destructive political circumstances of the Second World War were on individuals and the horror of family life during occupation. Resistance against invaders and parallel life of family trying not only to survive but also protect self-respect and human dignity during war time.
I am reminded of my own family history in Poland - a country with strong cultural, artistic and sentimental connection to France. For me this book has a special value as my Polish family underwent much the same. My father was in the Army and later in the Resistance and my mother alone with two children. The book is so vivid; it's as if I am looking at a photograph album of my young parents before and during the Nazi occupation. ...
This is a very optimistic and perfectly written book.
UTTERLY GRIPPING WAR STORY WITH REAL HEART
- Bev Robitai
Wow! I read the whole thing this afternoon - genuinely couldn't put it down. Jenny Harrison is a bloody good writer! That really is an outstanding piece of work. The story hangs together and is told to the reader's complete satisfaction. The author's talent for description is breathtakingly good at putting the reader squarely in the middle of the story. I'm exhausted from following Alice's struggle and half-expect to have to go and pump water for tonight's dishes! Really enjoyed reading this - I'm hugely impressed.
A TRULY REMARKABLE WOMAN
- Marlowes Gal
The inspiring tale of a mother's love and the lengths to which she will go to protect her child held me in thrall from beginning to end. Living in the United States in these modern times, it is hard to imagine the bleak conditions and extreme danger of living in Nazi-occupied France. That this family family, torn apart by war, survived at all is a testament to the indomitable spirit of Alice Pothron. Meeting Alice's daughter, Evelyn, made this book a personal journey for me. I recommend this book as a reminder not only of how much we have, but also the strength that love gives us to endure.
I COULDN'T TURN THE PAGES FAST ENOUGH
I could not put this book down. I read with tears streaming down my cheeks. this is a story of unimaginable resilience and strength. It is beautifully written in a way that had me feeling I was there at every step. This is a masterful piece of work. I highly recommend it.
All I can say is WOW! It was an absolutely riveting and uplifting story that moved me on more than one occasion. What a powerful ending for a tough and resourceful couple. A highly recommended read.
RUSTY & SLASHER'S GUIDE TO CRIME
LILY OF THE LAMPLIGHT?
How does Jenny do it? Every page a winner with her endless gift of taking the mickey and clever innuendo. If you want a good belly laugh before you go to sleep catch up with these two dynamos and their ever descending chance of making good in the world. Three cheers for Lily. She'll go far! Ma Naills is a cracker, and I'm holding my breath for when Pa gets out of prison.
A FUN READ
After reading this preview I can't wait for it to be released on paper. It looks like a fun and entertaining read.
TO THE CHILD UNBORN
- Mercia Turner, author of So Many Memories
What a lovely book!
- Paul McDonald
Awesome and inspiring, darl. People like you help me to remember that there really are angels living among us. God's blessing to u, my dear.
THE FALLING OF SHADOWS
- Daniel Williamson, author of Magician, Man and Beast
This is one of my favourite books. It shows great promise with great plotting and masterful prose.
Love it. It kept me guessing right to the end, until the very last page. Can't wait for your next book.
- Laurie Marie, author of Shadows and Light
Lovely turn of phrase and creepy build of suspense.
- Doreen Blundell
Great suspense! Couldn't put it down.
- Bev Robitai, author of Murder in the Second Row and Sunstrike
I was very impressed. it has real depth and some fabulous writing - the sort of characters that stay with you long after the book is finished.
THE INDIGO KID
- Pam Laird, author of The Giant's Chair
I just loved your Indigo Kid. Still thinking about the ending.
- Louise Thurtell, Allen & Unwin
... your writing shows considerable merit.
- Merle White
Fantastic book. Touched my heart because it was very close to the bone. I have grandchildren like this. Thank you for having the courage to write it.
- Evan Andrew, author of The Spanish Woman and Shadows in the Night
I have just finished reading Accidental Hero and thoroughly enjoyed it. You have a great flair for comedy as well as drama.
- Librarian, Takapuna Library, North Shore, Auckland
Here is a must-read by a local writer that warms the cockles of one's heart filled as it is with characters, computers, guardian angels and incidents that have one laughing out loud while imbibing some of the world's greatest philosophic truths about human fallibility and frailty. It is a highly entertaining read with a motley collection of likeably hilarious characters and profound ideas so skilfully and politically incorrectly introduced that the reader is swept along in high good humour by the sheer ingenuity of the plot and its people. I thoroughly enjoyed the collections of oddballs (an assortment of Kiwi screwballs, saint and sinners) that populate this clever cross between a detective story and the esoteric possibility of there being guardian angels helping us mere mortals along our daily stumbling way. The Accidental Hero has a close encounter with one of these helpers that has him and the reader joined in a delightful journey of riotous twists and turns that keep one entertained to the very end.