Jacob’s Oath Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 8 CDs (10 hours)
Read by Ari Fliakos

Authors and filmmakers seem to have latched on to World War II as a treasure trove of storytelling. Whether you’re looking at books or movies, you’ll find a wide variety of stories about this notorious time in history. But, despite the overabundance of World War II tales, author Martin Fletcher’s post-war novel, Jacob’s Oath, feels entirely original.

The story takes place at the end of World War II, as survivors of the Holocaust make their way through a war-torn Germany. After enduring the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Jacob Klein is determined to return home to Heidelberg to kill the SS guard who killed his younger brother, Maxie. Sarah Kaufman, meanwhile, avoided the camps through life on the streets, experiencing a different kind of horror in the process. She, too, travels to Heidelberg, motivated by the distant dream that the man she loves will be waiting for her, as he promised.

Upon arriving in Heidelberg, Sarah finds Jacob—the only other Jew in town—and they soon fall in love. But when Jacob’s target returns home, he struggles to choose between love and revenge.

It’s not hard to find stories about soldiers on the front lines of battle or families torn apart by the Holocaust. But rarely does the aftermath of the war get more than a closing chapter. Fletcher, on the other hand, focuses his entire novel on what came after the war—on the millions of people who struggled to reclaim their lives, on the Russian and American soldiers who occupied the area, and on the few remaining Jews whose hardships didn’t end after the threat of concentration camps was removed.

It’s certainly an emotional journey for these survivors. No one gives Jacob a hero’s welcome when he returns to Heidelberg. And instead of going back to his own home and his old life, he’s lucky to find food and a room to rent (not to mention the money to pay for it). His childhood home and all of his belongings have long since been given away, and it’s almost impossible to get ration cards without the proper identification. Still, along with Sarah, he struggles with guilt, wondering why he was spared when so many others were not. And, at the same time, he’s obsessed with his need to avenge the brother that he couldn’t protect.

What begins as a troubling story of terror and revenge, however, soon transforms into a sweet love story—a story of hope and healing. And it’s that mix of emotions—the love and the hate, the dreams and the regrets—that gives the characters depth and strength.

Thoughtfully and beautifully told, Jacob’s Oath tells a moving story of loss and love. Pick up a copy of the audiobook, and it’s sure to keep you captivated through endless hours on the road.

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