We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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Robert Rogers

I found this book quite harrowing and at times could not continue reading it. I would have to leave the book for a few days before returning to it although I wanted to finish it. In spite of the awful cruelty of one human being to another, there were light and beautiful moments in the book when Lale and Gita fell in love and spent stolen hours together. How wonderful for Gita to have found such a loving and compassionate man when faced with such horror and adversity. What a truly unselfish person Lale was in helping his fellow inmates survive the horrors of the concentration camp and it was so good to know that he was rewarded with spending the rest of his life with the love of his life, Gita

I found the pictures of Lale and Gita very moving as it put a face to the people who had managed to live through the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau. A good book to read if you can stomach the horrors of a concentration camp. Did I enjoy the book, no I did not but it is a book that should be read in order to prevent the horror of wars.

Tim Phillips

The cover of the book gives the portent of what is to come; the tattooed arms, hands clasped and the entrance to the camp.

The story is about a young man, Lale, meeting a young woman, Gita and falling in love. The twist being it is based on the truth. It is World War II, they are Jewish and in Auschwitz. He is tattooing the prisoners as they arrive.

The first 6 chapters build up Lale’s character and how he became the Tattooist. It also describes how he meets Gita. It also reveals the harsh methods used by those guarding the prisoners be they SS or trusted inmates, the deprivation and the fortitude. There is also reference to the way that Gypsies were treated.

Compassion is shown by Lale towards others by using the system and his burgeoning friendship with Gita to obtain jewellery that could be used to exchange with outside workers for food.

The book is based on the story provided 70 years after the events by Lale and does express how life was for those inmates. Having been to the camps in question it does bring to life the awful times that were suffered all those years ago.

Brian Leader

A captivating tale of a horrendous experience of life in captivity and a fight for survival during World War 2

This incredible story appears in some ways to sanitise the horrors of Auschwitz.

An easy to read tale of the love of two people for each other and their determination to survive the constant threat of death.

It was hard to believe that this was a true account of the holocaust and not fiction.

The commitment of Lale and Gita to each other and to their friends epitomised their determination to stay alive.

I found the story absolutely riveting and was somewhat disappointed that having survived and left the camp the concluding part of their lives was related rather briefly but a happy ending nevertheless to a truly amazing battle to survive.

Gillian Williamson

The book arrived shortly before we left for three days in Budapest, before joining Viking ‘Prestige’ for our Danube cruise. Excellent timing! I admit that the subject matter, the true story of Lale Sokolov a young Slovak sent to Auschwitz in 1942 and put to work tattooing serial numbers on other camp prisoners, would not be my usual choice of reading material to take on holiday.

Lale is determined to survive, more so after he meets Gita, a young woman he tattoos and subsequently falls in love with. Lale is well-educated and able to speak several languages which holds him in good stead during his time of incarceration earning him privileges such as extra food, which he distributes to fellow prisoners, in return for the jewellery of murdered Jews, which he uses to barter for medicines for Gita when she falls sick. However, the unusual relationship he has with his guards, Baretski in particular, does not place him above being shot at any time.

Eventually both he and Gita escape and are reunited in Bratislava, where they marry and have one child.

Given the disturbing subject matter of the book I was surprised to find it easy to read. Against the backdrop of the evil of the Holocaust this is essentially a well-written love story, which I could hardly put down.

Laura Melly

When I received this book I was very unsure about reading it. The horrors of the concentration camps are well known and the thought of reading more about what went on was daunting. However, I read the book and am very glad I did. Yes, it provides more examples of man’s inhumanity but it is also a book of hope. The story of Lale is told unsentimentally but with great feeling. The novel is full of sadness, pain and calculated cruelty but throughout is the determination of Lale, the main character, to make it through and be with the love of his life, Gita. Their love blossoms in the most unlikely surroundings and his courage, kindness to others and ability to make the best of any situation he finds himself in, make him an uplifting character. Not an easy read, but a very worthwhile one.

Michael Pitts

This is a story of incredible resourcefulness and enterprise showing how the horror of life in Auschwitz can be manipulated by selfless determination. Using a “Robin Hood” approach to his circumstances, the story’s hero manages to relieve some of the suffering of his fellow inmates. He surprisingly finds romance, which leads to marriage and a family, thus providing the tale with an unexpected happy ending.

A dark book to be read slowly.

Hazel Shaw

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is not an easy read, particularly for someone of my ethnicity (I am Jewish).

It is in part heartbreaking, yet somehow also uplifting. The reader immediately empathises with the terrible situation Lale and his sweetheart, Gita find themselves in, incarcerated in the terrifying concentration camp of Auschwitz.

Had we not known that the two main protagonists survive (otherwise the book would not have been written of course), we would have despaired that they and many like them could never escape their fate. Of course many perished there and it was particularly affecting that Gita's great friend, Dana perished on the Great March. So near but yet so far for her.

Though the daily regime at the camp was undeniably harsh there were still many small acts of kindness between the prisoners, demonstrating that the human spirit survives even in the face of great evil.

It is wonderful that Lale and Gita found each other after the war, married and lived a long and happy life together, the very least they deserved.

This book is thought provoking, sad and humbling. I highly recommend it.

Catherine Adams

This is not a book that I would normally pick up to read. But I found it a surprisingly easy read and I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished it, in only one day.

This book is a true story of prisoners in a concentration camp who were forced by the Nazi regime to work for them in order to help run their camps. To refuse meant death.

It is a remarkably wonderful story of one man (Lale) who was forced into taking a job of tattooing numbers onto the arms of his fellow prisoners arms, in order to stay alive himself.

While doing this barbaric job he meets and falls in love with a woman called Gita. The story continues with their plight to stay safe and alive and also the stories and events that other prisoners had to ordeal with in such terrible conditions.

This book is a very powerful and amazing story and I would recommend everyone to read it. I can’t imagine anyone not being moved by the events that take place.

Valerie Harrigan

I opened this book with trepidation - oh dear not my usual choice. I don’t often select biographies and I definitely do not go for books on World War 2. How wrong could I be - I was hooked from the first page. An extremely engaging account of this brave, intelligent intern of Auschwitz/Birkenau and although it was an emotional and sometimes difficult read, this tale of suffering drew me into Lale’s personal ordeal. I must admit that I was glad I knew from the outset that he and his wife lived to tell their tale.

Stewart McFarlane

Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to review The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Having read several other books about Auschwitz and the history of the period I would, perhaps, not have considered reading the book had I not been directed to it by Viking Book Club.

However the book gives a very different perspective from others I have read, by documenting the account of events of Lale Sokolov a survivor of Auschwitz and is a remarkable story of survival against overwhelming odds.

Lale's instantaneous resolve to survive ,when faced with the horror of imprisonment in Auschwitz, as a means of defeating his captors intent, gave him strength to achieve his goal.

He struggled with the moral dilemma that in order to survive he had, to collude with those imprisoning him, but in turn used those unwarranted feelings of self guilt to spur him to take huge risks to help fellow prisoners.

His courage was eventually rewarded as both he and Gita,the woman he met in the camp,managed independantly to return to their home regions and subsequently, also against the odds, were reunited and married. The suffering they endured was recompensed by a long and happy marriage of some 58 years.

Michael Olin

This is a story of love, brutality, and survival. In essence, what happens here is that two prisoners meet in Auschwitz, fall in love, and – against massive odds – survive. They subsequently marry. What constitutes an achievement is relative. Climbing a mountain, writing a symphony. For those in the concentration and death camps, survival was an achievement. Here’s a bizarre thought: had it not been for Auschwitz, this particular love wouldn’t have happened, so perhaps Auschwitz came to have a special place in their hearts?

This isn’t the best book I’ve read about the camps, and maybe its close focus doesn’t do justice to the scale of what happened. But it’s an important reminder of what can be done when there’s love and hope.

People interested in this genre might wish to read Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man, and John Boyne’s novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Glynis Blaber

How great to find on my return from a Viking cruise on the Rhine this book waiting for me. Please find below my review.

Do not let the grim title of this book stop you reading it. It is a true story, yes of horror, but also of hope, friendship, love and survival.

Written by Australian author Heather Morris who met Lale Sokolov - the tattooist - towards the end of his life. He wanted his story told by a non-Jew - someone with no personal baggage - and this is reflected in the matter of fact presentation of his story. As a child over 18 in a Slovakian Jewish family he was ordered to be put to work by the German government and thus save his family from the concentration camps!

He was sent to Birkenau/Auschwitz in 1942 and from the beginning his motto for survival was "Do as you're told, always observe. I will live to leave this place". He is made to work as assistant to Pepan, the tattooist, and eventually takes over the role.

The day he tattoos 34902 on the arm of Gita he is given the ultimate reason for survival. Their love and the support and friendship of others in the camp makes this, surprisingly, an uplifting read.