Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Release Day! The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson ~ My Thoughts and an Excerpt #TheOperaSisters @ShadowMountn

Happy Release Day!

Congrats Marianne
on the release today of
The Opera Sisters!

The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson
Historical Fiction, 352 pages
Published September 6, 2022 by Shadow Mountain
Cover art: ©Ildiko Neer / Trevillion Images; fStop Images / Getty Images
Book design: © Shadow Mountain
Art Direction: Richard Erickson
Design: Heather G. Ward

Based on the true story of the Cook sisters, who smuggled valuables out of 1930s Nazi Germany to finance a daring, secret operation to help Jews find hope for a new life in England
British sisters Ida and Louise Cook enjoy their quiet, unassuming lives in south London. Ida writes romance novels, and Louise works as a secretary. In the evenings, the sisters indulge in their shared love for opera, saving their money to buy records and attend performances throughout England and Europe, becoming well-known by both performers and fellow opera lovers.

But when Hitler seizes power in 1933, he begins targeting and persecuting German Jews, passing laws that restrict their rights and their lives. The sisters continue their trips to the German opera houses, but soon, Jewish members of the opera community covertly approach the sisters, worried that they will be stripped of their wealth and forced to leave their homes and the country. Danger looms on the horizon, threatening to spill across all of Europe’s borders.

Ida and Louise vow to help, but how can two ordinary working-class women with limited means make a difference?

Together with their beloved opera community, the sisters devise a plan to personally escort Jewish refugees from Germany to England. The success of the plan hinges on Ida and Louise’s ability to smuggle contraband jewelry and furs beneath the watchful eyes of the SS soldiers guarding various checkpoints. But how many trips can they make before someone blows a whistle? Or before the final curtain falls on Germany’s borders?

The Opera Sisters is a riveting and inspiring novel of two unlikely heroines whose courage and compassion gave hope to many Jews desperate to escape Nazi persecution.

My thoughts about The Opera Sisters ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"A long horn blared though the factory courtyard sounding the morning break. Expectant workers streamed out into the courtyard, wiping sweat from their faces."

I seem to be reading a lot of books lately that are set in the time of World War II. Almost all of them have been centered on the people who were being persecutedthe horrible things that they had to endure and the suffering they went through to survivewith some of them not living though it all.  

The Opera Sisters tells the same story of the war but from a different perspective. This is the story of two sisters who came to the aid of those very same people who were being persecuted and were suffering. Based on true events, sisters Ida and Louise Cook were able to get a lot of people out of dangerous situations and to safety. Under the guise of the opera, they built up a network of friends and connections who helped them with their mission of saving people. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I learned so much about the world of opera but I was also able to see another side to a terrible time in our world. There really were a lot of good people helping so many in need. Like I said, this is a different spin to the usual WWII story so if you like historical fiction of that time period, you will definitely want to read this one. I highly recommend The Opera Sisters.

I received a copy of The Opera Sisters from the publisher and this is my honest opinion of the book.


As they neared the Dutch border, Ida and Louise tried to push down their nervousness, to wear the jewels casually, as if they’d always been their own. As the train rocked their private compartment, a memory she’d not thought of in ages came into Ida’s mind.

“Louise, do you remember that game I used to play when we were little? When I would hunt round the garden digging in the dirt and peering under things, looking for lost diamonds?”

Louise laughed. “We had a row about it a few times, remember?”

“Because you said if I found one, I must give it back to its rightful owner and it would be wrong to expect a reward simply for doing what’s right.” Ida smiled at the memory and looked down at the exquisite ruby brooch circled with diamonds. “This is just as gorgeous and sparkly as the jewels I hunted for as a child.”

“Am I to suppose you’ve matured since then, and you’re planning to give them back?”

“You had an unusually sensitive conscience for a child, Louie,” Ida said, using her childhood endearment for her sister. “And yes, I shall give this treasure back when our friends come to claim it.” The train slowed as they reached the border, and the smiles slipped from their faces as they left the train and joined others in queue.

Ahead, stood a stern official, SS guards and a chained dog by his side.

Ida squeezed her sister’s hand.

“And what was the purpose of your trip?” a German official inquired.

“Opera,” said Louise, adjusting the white gloves that covered Frau Basch’s emerald ring, as Ida flourished a Rienzi playbill.

His eyes momentarily rested on Ida’s brooch, but as he took in the rest of her outfit, he appeared to dismiss it. Nothing about them looked like gentry.

“Next,” said the official, and he waved them through. They turned away.

“Halt!” called the guard behind them. Shaking, they turned around. He took Louise’s passport and began arguing with another soldier in rapid-fire German.

Another man, just behind them, was pulled from line and dragged away. The soldier returned with Louise’s passport and reluctantly handed it back to them. The guard dog growled as they fled back to the train.

A few hours later, they boarded the ferry that plied the route between Rotterdam and Harwich, and, as the hammered water receded, the sisters relaxed at last, melting into the ship’s railing as each minute increased their distance from Germany.

“What a relief,” Ida said, looking over the ever increasing water. Louise stiffened, looked about, and turned Ida to face the sea. “We don’t know who may still be watching.”

Ida nodded.

By that evening, they were back in the parlor at 24 Morella Road, which looked just like they had left it; they embraced their parents just as they’d done so many times before. But how different everything felt. No longer could they wave off news about Germany. Suddenly the political climate had become arresting in a way no newspaper could manage. Ida thought of how she’d planned to use her new earnings to buy clothes and opera tickets. The memory made her a little sick. Back in their shared bedroom, Ida gingerly placed the emerald ring beside the brooch, wondering what to do with the lot. “I suppose we need a safe deposit box for them,” said Ida.

They settled into their beds and turned off the lights, a silence stretching between them.

“We must get those dear people out,” Louise said at last. “All of them.”

Ida nodded into the darkness, surrounded and lifted by the safety and protection of home. “Tomorrow, we begin.”

About the author

Marianne Monson received her MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and primarily writes on topics related to women’s history. She has taught English and Creative Writing at the community college and university levels and is the author of twelve books for children and adults, including the novel Her Quiet Revolution and her nonfiction works Frontier Grit and Women of the Blue and Gray.

She is the founder of The Writer’s Guild, a literary nonprofit, and writes from a 100-year-old house in Astoria, Oregon.

Connect with Marianne


Be sure to check the sidebar for all of my current giveaways!


Post a Comment

Thanks SO much for leaving me a comment! Every single one means a whole lot to me!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...