One of the books of 2018, The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the true tale of Lale and his time in a concentration camp and the finding of his one true love during the second war and the Nazi regime.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a dark tale that I think anybody who reads it will most certainly feel sympathy towards. It’s a story known around the world as one of the darkest times in human history and hearing the account of one victim really hones you into the personal element of something we all know a lot about.
Plot – 4/5
Lale finds himself thrown into a concentration camp when the Nazis demand an adult family member join from each family. Quite soon after his arrival, he is designated as “tatowierer” which sees him tattooing the incoming prisoners with a number. It’s a dark idea that makes him feel like he’s simply numbering cattle for slaughter. What comes next are almost two years of some really difficult choices, horrible sights and awful memories that last with Lale forever. However, most importantly Lale meets Gita and this is what arrives him on and becomes the love story that keeps the hope throughout the novel.
Now, I have to admit, I don’t know if it was just me but I didn’t feel overly invested in any of the characters. I’m not sure if it was because the author wasn’t given vast amounts of creative license as she wanted to tell an accurate story but it makes some of the dialogue very simple and limited. Lale and Gita’s story itself is very limited and not overly romantic, though the setting they’re in does add a certain level of tenseness that makes their meetings more interesting. But even with this, there’s a lot that Lale gets away with that I feel fluffs up how easy it could be for someone who even remotely tried to work with the Nazis instead of against them.
The actual events that take place are incredible – the connections between characters and the events that unfold almost seem unbelievable for a true story. It does keep you reading – in fact I read the last half of the book in one sitting.
Characters – 4/5
Lale is charming – he was used to being a lady’s man back in Slovakia and this eventually comes through when he starts to settle in a little more. He’s kind to a lot of people and risks his life multiple times to ensure the lives of those around him are slightly less horrible.
Writing a review of the characters of real people isn’t easy as obviously, their personalities are their own, not Morris’ own. However, with it being based on a true story, I can tell you whether they’re engaging. Lale and Gita’s love story becomes the centre of the tale more towards the end of the book. The last hundred pages of the book have you flipping the pages at pace wondering how it will all end up and this is a testament to the love that is shown within this book.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz summary – 4/5
The Tattooist of Auschwitz didn’t blow me away quite like I hoped it would but I have still come away from it very impressed. The story is quite unbelievable and with every twist and turn you’re drawn not only into Lale’s personal story but the love story between him and Gita also. There are a lot of dark moments in this book but I imagine many people picking it up will expect this going in.
I’d recommend this to any romantics or those interested in the history of the subject, the events that are told are gripping and I think Morris has done a great job at retelling Lale’s story in detail whilst making it flow at the same time.