Author: Jake Wallis Simons
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-5107-1805-0

Fourteen year old Rosa Klein, her older brother Heinrich, younger sister Hedi and parents Otto and Inga are a loving, happy, financially secure family.  Life for the Klein family in many respects was idyllic - until the Nuremberg Laws against Jews began to be enforced in Germany and their lives changed dramatically.


As Jews, their passports became invalid and try as they might to seek emigration visas, it was too late.  When word came their way about the Kindertransport program (where one child per family could leave Germany if a sponsor in England could be found), an agonizing decision brought Otto and Inge to the realization that Rosa was the most likely able to arrange visas for the rest of the family.  As Rosa steps on the train, life as she knew it ended as she and other children on the Kindertransport (including a baby smuggled on the train that Rosa tries to hide from the Nazi soldiers) left families, homes, friends and familiar language behind them, beginning a treacherous journey to a new land and new life.  For Rosa, that meant life with the Kremer family: Gerald (her father’s cousin), his wife Mimi and Samuel, their eighteen year old son in London, England.

Rosa’s loneliness in the new country without her parents is frightening and beyond imaginable as she tries to balance finding work, cleaning house for Mrs. Kremer, and constantly seeking visas for her family so they could leave war-torn Germany and join her in England.  An unexpected intimate relationship with Samuel Kremer leads to a pregnancy that is ended against her will and Rosa flees the Kremer home.  Haunted by the infrequent and eventual cessation of letters from her parents, what might be happening to her family in Germany, and memories of her abortion, Rosa withdraws and fills her days and life with study, ultimately achieving her life-long dream to become a nurse.

Overall, lengthy sentences, unbelievably long paragraphs, little “white” space on many of the actual pages (publisher trying to save money?) and the lack of quotation marks throughout the book make it difficult to read and follow.  The conclusion of the book (describing what happened to the baby that Rosa hid on the Kindertransport could have transformed what became simply an romantic novel genre with historical overtones into a novel of great strength with dramatic historical relevance.  Sadly, it did not.

The tale of “The English German Girl” had great possibilities, but the ‘English Rosa’ part of the book is simply a rushed contrived love story with little of the strength of the first half of the book as the author wasn’t able to continue the believable story of the ‘German Rosa’ (with its well-developed plot line, excellent imagery and strong character development) into the second half of the book for this reviewer.