The Zookeeper's Wife, 2017, by Diane Ackerman
First, I watched and enjoyed the film by this name on Netflix. Then I read the online reviews, several of which said the film did not do justice to the book. And so I then got the book out of the public library.
The bare bones of the film and the book are the same: Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who live on the zoo grounds, rescue 300 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto during the second world war. The filmmakers simplify the story. For example, the wife feigns romantic interest in her Nazi overseer, a young rape victim is rescued and nursed out of her psychic shock, and the family survives the war intact.
The book is more of a documentary, based on the wife's journals, but also on an extensive bibliography. It presents the couple more realistically, warts and all. It traces the events chronologically: the invasion of Poland in September of 1939, the herding of Jews into the ghetto, the transfer of many by box car to the death camps, the Warsaw Uprising and Hitler's retaliation and, finally, occupation by the Soviets. The title could well have been The Zookeeper, rather than The Zookeeper's Wife, in recognition of Jan's repeated exploits as a member of the Polish Underground.
As living memories of World War II fade away, with its records of both depravity and heroism, it is good that books and movies like these are being made. I recommend both. Each can stand on its own. Dorothy Sly
DID YOU READ A GOOD BOOK THIS SUMMER? CARE TO TELL US ABOUT IT? Send a note to email@example.com and mark it "for website."
Some of us have read Leonardo and the Last Supper recently. We found it to be a great read, containing lots of historical as well as art information. But it took a while to read - and gardening season had arrived - so unfortunately no one had time left over to tell you about it! This is a good one to sit back and enjoy now that the fall rains are arriving more frequently.
And by the way. . . there's another book about Leonardo da Vinci you might care to check out. It is called simply Leonardo da Vinci. Author's name is Walter Isaacson . . . and it has been recommended by Bill Gates. . . . .