Thursday, September 5, 2019

"Memories of Glass" by Melanie Dobson ... and a GIVEAWAY!


The publisher has agreed to give away one print copy of this book (US ONLY). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends September 12, 2019. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.) 


Q & A with Melanie...


Q:  How did you come across the true accounts that inspired Memories of Glass? What research went into writing this novel?
A:   Several years ago a dear friend told me about thousands of Dutch mining tunnels in Maastricht that were used to hide people and artwork during World War II. As I researched those tunnels, I stumbled onto the incredible story about a network of seemingly ordinary people in Amsterdam who rescued more than six hundred children from a Nazi deportation center during the war. This amazing feat became the foundation for Memories of Glass.

During my months of research, I read countless interviews with men and women involved in the Dutch resistance and then spent a week in the Netherlands visiting all the major locations for my story, including the Amsterdam deportation center and the marlstone tunnels down south. When I boarded a bus to Kamp Westerbork, the elderly driver was so pleased to hear I was writing a novel about Holland's Holocaust that he covered my fare. across this beautiful country of windmills, canals, and fields of flowers, I discovered a number of gracious people like this gentleman who were eager to share what happened to their ancestors during the war.

Q:  Oh, that's wonderful that you met so many gracious people eager to help you. What is the inspiration for the title of your book, Memories of Glass?
A:   In both the past and present stories, my characters wrestle with how to process the broken memories of loved ones who were stolen away from them, and one of my Dutch heroines collects antique glass bottles many years after the war to remember someone she lost. At the end of the story—well, I won't tell you exactly what happens at the end, but after many years of brokenness, the shards of those memories are finally welded back together again.

Q:  How did the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands differ from their occupation of other European countries?
A:  Before the war, the Netherlands had been a neutral country, welcoming many German Jewish refugees across the border, but everything changed for the Dutch in May 1940. After promising not to attack, Hitler's army swept furiously into Holland and overtook this beautiful land. The Dutch were stunned but consoled by promises that the persecution happening in Germany wouldn't occur in their country.

A special council—the Judenrat–was formed to meet the needs of Jewish citizens. Even as new regulations were implemented in Holland, many of the 140,000 Dutch Jews believed they were safe because the Nazis granted thousands of exemptions to their growing list of rules. In 1942, assisted by the Judenrat, the Nazis began rounding up the Jewish people and cramming them into a gutted Amsterdam theater called Hollandsche Schowburg. Still they continued to grant exemptions to elite Jewish citizens until near the end of the war when even the leaders of the Judenrat were rounded up and deported to concentration camps. More than a hundred thousand Jewish people lost their lives during the Dutch Holocaust, but of the twenty-five thousand who went into hiding, including four thousand children, more than fifteen thousand remained hidden until liberation.

Q:  You've highlighted three real-life Dutch heroes in this novel. Could you tell us a bit about their stories?
A:   Walter Süskind was a German Jewish salesman appointed to register each man, woman, and child forced into an Amsterdam theater for deportation. Across the street from the theater, separated by a tram line, were two brick-clad buildings–a day care run by a matronly Jewish woman named Henriёtte Pimentel and the Reformed Teacher Training College, overseen by Johan van Hulst. These three leaders partnered together to rescue six hundred children from their vigilant occupiers, and the Nazis never found out what they were doing.

Sadly Henriёtte was killed at Auschwitz in 1943 after accompanying her staff and the remaining children in her care. Walter was exempted from deportation, but his wife and daughter were not. He chose to live with them and many think he was killed in 1945 by fellow inmates at Auschwitz who thought he, a former employee of the Judenrat, was a traitor. Dr. Hulst Passed away last year at the age of 107. He knew that I was writing Memories of Glass, and it was a great honor for me to connect with those who loved him.

Q:  Oh, that's wonderful! What is your favorite thing about writing in the time-slip genre? What's the most challenging aspect of it?
A:   I love to research and learn stories from the past, especially stories about ordinary people who did extraordinary things to fight against evil. In time-slip fiction, I can write a past plot alongside a contemporary one to show the repercussions of an event that occurred long ago. I like peeling back the layers of a family secret to discover the reality of what really happened and how it continues to impact people today. The most challenging aspect of writing time-slip fiction is weaving together the past and present stories so readers will be engaged with the characters in both time periods.

Q:  What role does faith play in the story?
A:   I really enjoyed writing about the journey of Landon West, my contemporary character  who partners with Ugandans to provide both jobs and the good news about God's redeeming love. The role of faith is integral in both the past and present stories as Josie, one of my past heroines, is motivated to help others because of God's call on her life.

Also, the story shines a light on the persistent, nagging struggle of doubt and shame. Ava, my contemporary heroine, ultimately determines: "This burden of my memories, the extra weight of guilt, has almost crushed me. But long ago soldiers nailed up the burden of my sin on a cross, the depth of my shame, when they crucified Christ. Perhaps I can remember now without the weight of sorrow."

God gifts Ava with a beautiful memory as she begins to realize that what happened in the past wasn't her fault. God doesn't need to forgive her for this loss. She needs to forgive herself.

Q:  In this novel, one of the contemporary characters must confront a difficult truth about her family's history and involvement with WWII. What lessons do you hope readers will learn from this character's struggle?
A:   Ava is shocked to discover the terrible destruction initiated by some of her ancestors during World War II, but near the end of the novel, she is encouraged to find that others in her family tried to repair this damage.

Through my life, I've learned that it's difficult to understand someone's actions — a relative or friend — until you understand their journey. Many people, though, are ashamed or embarrassed about their past. I hope this story encourages readers to share their own stories and then, with a heart of compassion, be diligent about learning the stories of those they love. The truth, through Christ, is the power to set all of us free.

Q:   In many of your novels, ordinary people are challenged to do extraordinary things. How do the historical characters in this novel respond differently to the same threat?
A:   It was a fascinating challenge me to work through how each of my Dutch characters would respond to the Nazi occupation and eventual persecution of the Jewish people. Some of m characters collaborated with Hitler and profited off the persecution of their fellow man. Some gave their lives to help others escape. Other characters are forced to walk a terrifying middle line between good and evil, a line that kept shifting our from under their feet.

As I wrote this story, I had to continually ask myself — what would I do if I had lived in Amsterdam in 1942? It's impossible to know, of course, but I was greatly humbled and encouraged to learn the stories of the many heroes and heroines who risked everything to love their neighbors.

Q:  Memories of Glass, like other novels you've written, highlights the virtue of sacrificial love. How do you hope your readers will relate this to their daily lives?
A:   The heart of the story is about two Dutch women who've been wounded by a broken friendship. When the Nazi occupation brings them back together, they must work closely together to rescue the Jewish children in their care.

My hope is that the friendship and sacrifice of these women will represent the thousands of Dutch men and women who gave their lives for people they loved and often for people they didn't even know. Memories of Glass poured out of me as a reminder that in my own small world, my busyness, I often overlook opportunities to help others around me. I hope readers are inspired alongside of me to be vigilant in sacrificially loving those whom God brings into our world as well as, like Landon in the story, be open to stepping outside our comfort zones partner with people in need around the world.


My review...

I enjoy books about WWII, and I enjoy Melanie Dobson’s books, so I’m not surprised that I loved this book. It's a story that will stick with me for some time, and it should, as this is about a part of history that shouldn't be forgotten.

Dobson has crafted a powerful time-slip novel with well-developed characters who show strength and determination when faced with unbelievable circumstances. This book is a testament to the numerous men and women who risked their lives during WWII to help save others (in the case of Memories of Glass, children). While many people have heard horrific details about the Holocaust, this side of the Holocaust is not as widely known. 

The story weaves together Ava Drake’s present-day story, as director of the Kingston Family Foundation, with the historical angle, where she uncovers secrets about her family’s history in Holland during WWII. The conclusion is one that will likely leave the reader feeling a bit more hopeful.

Themes of forgiveness and resilience are key, as well as the message that God’s grace is always present. Faith is woven throughout. It’s obvious that Dobson did an extensive amount of research for this book. I also enjoyed the Author’s Note, which gave some insight on how the story came to be written.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “God is going to use you to bring people together instead of tear them apart.”
  • “We’ll never be satisfied in here … by relying on someone other than God to heal us.”
  • “Hatred stops at nothing to destroy, but love can break through the root of evil.”


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.





About Melanie...


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nineteen historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels, including Hidden Among the Stars, Catching the Wind, Chateau of Secrets, and Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Four of her novels have won Carol Awards, Catching the Wind won the Audie Award for inspirational fiction, and The Black Cloister won the Foreword magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year.

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.

Visit Melanie online at www.melaniedobson.com.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

40 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to win a copy of this incredible book! I love how much more I learn about history through all the research that goes into a wonderful historical fiction novel. Thanks, Melanie, for the in depth research you did for this book. I am looking forward to learning much more!

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    1. You're welcome, Betti. I enjoy history much more through books such as this one.

      Good luck, and thanks for visiting my blog.

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  2. I cannot wait to read this book! I like learning about the history in this story and the time-slip aspect!

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    1. Janice, I love the time-slip aspect, too :)

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good luck!

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  3. Thanks for the chance to win this book! I always appreciate when there is so much research that goes into writing historical fiction novels!

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    1. You're welcome, Nina. It is interesting to see how much work goes into one novel. It definitely makes the story come alive.

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  4. I have never read one of Melanies books and would love to read this one it sounds so interesting!
    Linda Marie Finn
    faithfulacresbooks@ Gmail dot Com

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    1. Oh, I do hope you have a chance to check out some of her books, Linda. She has a number of great historical novels.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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  5. This book sounds so good! I love the beautiful cover too! I would love to read it.

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    1. It's a wonderful book, and I agree about the cover.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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  6. What a great sounding story! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. It's a wonderful story. I hope you enjoy it.

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  7. I am a huge fan of historical romance...and your review helped, too.

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    1. I'm glad you found my review helpful, Linda.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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  8. I love this historical books. Great cover.

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    1. I agree. It's a great cover and story, Nancy.

      Good luck! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  9. I love to share my books with other people, so if I win, this copy will be passed around to lots of friends!

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    1. Oh, I love that you do that. I think you and your friends will enjoy this one.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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  10. All of Melanie's books are great.

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    1. Yes, they are, Kim. She's one of my favorite authors.

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by.

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  11. I've always loved history, so it's no surprise that historical fiction is my favorite genre. For me, it's learning and escaping to a different time & place at the same time.

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    1. Michelle, those are some good points. I enjoy learning about history through books, as well.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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  12. As someone with ties to this same area and time in history, and also as someone who doesn't know much about either, I really want to read this book to get to know more, both factually and emotionally.

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    1. Danielle, I can certainly understand why you'd be interested in reading this book. I think you'll enjoy it.

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  13. I believe I've heard of this author. I may read one of her books.

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    1. She has a number of great books, so I wouldn't be surprised if you had some of them.

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Leslie, and for taking the time to read Memories of Glass and write such a wonderful review! Grateful...

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    1. You're welcome, Melanie. Thanks so much for stopping by ... and for writing such wonderful books!

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  15. Thank you for a chance to read this book. I gave read a few others about thge holocost in Germany and this sounds like very good..I lovedd your blog how you got the same idea for this sroty i found it fascinating

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    1. You're welcome, Rory. Thanks for visiting my blog.

      Good luck!

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  16. I love this kind of history and this author seems to have found a great story that needs to be told. I love that she traveled to Holland and got to meet with people who remembered and appreciated what she was doing.

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    1. Paula, I agree. It's a story that definitely needs to be told, as it's a part of history that shouldn't be forgotten.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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  17. I love Melanie Dobson's stories and I love reading about this time period. Thanks so much for the chance!

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    1. You're very welcome, Jeanne. She has a number of great books. Good luck!

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  18. I've read several other books by Melanie Dobson and have this one high on my TBR! Thanks for sharing!! <3

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    1. You're welcome, Becca. You need to move it up on your list :)

      Good luck!

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  19. I'm so looking forward to reading this book soon! I loved Hidden Among the Stars!

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    1. Winnie, that was a great book, to. Good luck!

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    1. Then I think you'll really enjoy this one, Caryl. Good luck!

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