Sunday Book Review – Touching the Wire by Rebecca Bryn

This week’s Sunday Book Review is on Rebecca Bryn’s riveting read – Touching The Wire. One of my favorite genres to read in is historical fiction – mainly WWII era and the Holocaust. I’ve read many wonderful books in this genre, but none like this one that takes an interesting approach to the story by including a mystery throughout the book, keeping us glued till the very end of the book.




“He had no way to tell her he had given her life: no right to tell her to abandon hope.”

A fictional tale of love and darkness in Auschwitz-Birkenhau, and of every man and woman who bore the Auschwitz tattoo, or were interred in Nazi death camps throughout WW2, this novel is inspired by real events. It is a tribute to the courage of victims of Nazi war crime during the Holocaust, sadly an inescapable part of Jewish history. The horror of holocaust experiments carried out under the auspices of war and Hitler’s obsession with a master race are hard to understand, impossible to condone, and difficult to imagine forgiving. The human spirit that can find love in such a place must be rare indeed, but a person in dire circumstances will grab at a kindness where it is offered. Such is the premise of this story, and it asks the question, could you forgive? Part One transitions between 1944/45 and the 1970s and continues in Part Two in the present day.


Part One – In the Shadow of the Wolf

In a death camp hospital in 1940’s Poland, a young doctor and nurse struggle to save lives and relieve the suffering of their women patients. As their relationship blossoms, amid the death and deprivation, they join the camp resistance and, despite the danger of betrayal, he steals damning evidence of war-crimes. Afraid of repercussions, and for the sake of his post-war family, he hides the evidence but hard truths and terrible choices haunt him, as does an unkept promise to his lost love.


Part Two – Though the Heavens should Fall

In present-day England, his granddaughter seeks to answer the questions posed by her grandfather’s enigmatic carving. Her own relationship in tatters, she meets a modern historian who, intrigued by the carving, agrees to help her discover its purpose. As her grandfather’s past seeps into the present, and more carvings are discovered, she betrays the man she loves and is forced to confront her own guilt in order to contemplate forgiving the unforgivable and keep her grandfather’s promise.
How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust? Estimates vary around the 6 million mark, a number that is hard to imagine. 100 coachloads a day was how one person quantified it. A Holocaust thriller.



“A young woman bent to retrieve her possessions. An SS officer strode past. ‘Leave. Luggage afterwards.’
She stood wide-eyed like a startled deer, one arm cradling a baby. Beside her an elderly woman clutched a battered suitcase. The girl’s eyes darted from soldier to painted signboard and back. ‘What are we doing here, grandmother? Why have they brought us here?’

The wind teased at her cheerful red shawl, revealing and lifting long black hair. She straightened and attempted a smile. ‘It’ll be all right, Grandmother. God has protected us on our journey.’
Voices rasped, whips cracked, dogs barked… An SS officer pushed towards a woman of about fifty. ‘How old?’ She didn’t respond so the officer shouted.

He edged closer. As a doctor he held a privileged position, but he’d also discovered he had a gift for languages. He translated the German to stilted Hungarian, adding quietly. ‘Say you’re under forty-five. Say you are well. Stand here with the younger women.’ He moved from woman to woman, intercepting those he could. ‘Say you are well. Say your daughter is sixteen. Say you can work or have a skill. Say you aren’t pregnant.’

Miriam’s eyes glistened. ‘May He rescue us from every foe.’ She touched her grandmother’s cheek, a gentle lingering movement, and placed a tender kiss on her baby’s forehead. She moved to stand where he pointed.

Miriam’s eyes met his. He had no way to tell her had given her life: no right to tell her to abandon hope. ‘Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.’ ”


My 5 Star Review: Hard to Put Down this Book

“It was forbidden to approach the fence, forbidden to shout out to husbands, wives and loves. It was forbidden to love.” This poignant sentence stood out to me in the gripping story of horrors of the Holocaust as told by a tortured soul – Walt, a.k.a. Chuck Blundell through the present and flashbacks of the past. This story is brilliantly told in two parts as Walt’s story haunts him the rest of his life, first, living through the horrors of the Holocaust then bringing us into the present as the memories continue to distract his life.

Walt is now 72 living with his loving wife, daughter and two granddaughters. His fight to survive and save as many as he could during his capture, only to ‘supposedly’ take his own life decades later, consumed with nightmares and horrific heartbreaking memories from his time in Auschwitz-Birkenhau.  The flashbacks were too real and time didn’t heal. Walt kept notes in a diary, risking his life in doing so as he hid them from the SS, knowing that he must one day share with the world, deciding to put those grimoires in time capsules only to be opened in 99 years.

In part two, Walt’s family who knew nothing about his past life as a Polish prisoner or the woman ‘Miriam’ who he fought to save and fell in love with, discover his secrets, and the story of Walt’s life unfolds, spurring the curiosity of one of his granddaughters to investigate the mysteries beginning with the carvings Walt created throughout his life, initiating the search for who was Walt really, and who was this woman Miriam whom Walt’s present day family had never known about.

This book was chilling and often difficult to read with the explicit descriptions of the horrors and tortures that went on in the concentration camp, but the storyline was hauntingly compelling and addictive and brilliantly written.

Although the story was written in fiction, the facts and some of the characters were taken from history. If you enjoy reading stories about humanity combined with a great mystery, you will definitely want to read this book. I look forward to reading more from this talented author, Rebecca Bryn.

31 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – Touching the Wire by Rebecca Bryn

    1. It really does Robbie. And I’ve read many, yet continue to be fascinated that people condone inhumanity in the world. I’ll keep reading and keep sharing! 🙂


  1. A chilling story, Debby. I can relate to how hard it must have been to read certain sections. I struggle with books about real cruelty and brutality. They are so important and yet they’re heartbreaking, and it’s terrifying to think that humans can be so monstrous. Thanks for the review. 🙂


    1. Thanks Diana. You put it so succinctly. I can’t even watch anything with gore on TV, I close my eyes on those parts so yes, most difficult to read, but yet compelling. ❤


  2. Thank you, Debbie for such a wonderful review. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The inspiration was a TV report that made me question my own powers of forgiveness, and the book was begun with a view to answering that question. The research and writing was heartbreaking, and I often had to walk away and breathe clean, fresh air before I could continue. But the victims couldn’t walk away, and it was their courage and resilience that made me determined to publish their story. Maybe, it isn’t so much what you can forgive as who you can forgive?


    1. Thanks so much for dropping by Rebecca. I can’t even imagine how gut-wrenching it felt to write this book. I know when I wrote one of my memoirs in particular – P.S. I Forgive You, I wrote with heartache and had to get up many times and take a break. A good mark of emotional writing. It seems forgiveness is a theme in both our writings. 🙂 Anyway, once again, it’s a fabulous book and I look forward to reading more from you ❤


  3. It’s said that we suffer for our art. I think it’s more that our suffering allows us to write with passion and compassion. Forgiveness is a theme that runs through several of my books for various reasons. It’s an emotive subject.


  4. This sounds like a powerful combination of history and fiction, Debby. I find it hard to read about the Holocaust and so I can only imagine the emotions that came out for the author while she researched the story.


    1. Exactly Christy. I know well about how painful writing can affect us when we’re writing. I also know from the author how many times she had to walk away from her writing. Hard to read, but hard to put down! ❤


  5. Thanks for this great review, Debby! While mysterious and compelling, I’m sure it’s a difficult read in some ways and not the easiest book to leave a review for. That being said, the job of the author is incredible! To be able to balance history and fiction about such a horrific time period and create suspense and “connection” for the reader is amazing. It definitely sounds like a must-read for everyone.


    1. All valid points Liesbet. I’ve connected with the author and she told me there were numerous times she had to walk away from writing. I know myself how many times I had to step away from the computer while writing a few of my own books. How can we not get caught up with the subject matter we spend 100s of hours writing about? 🙂 And yes, it wouldn’t hurt for people to read this book to appreciate the freedoms we (still) have. 🙂


  6. Thank you all for your lovely comments and your interest. There are times when mankind’s inhumanity to man makes me despair of the human race, and there are times when selfless courage and resilience lift me up and give me hope. Researching and writing Touching the Wire was a roller coaster ride that plumbed the depths and rose to dizzying heights on the backs of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. It was their courage that gave me the will to continue and to publish. I hope I have done them justice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s