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The Sugar Men

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Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away. For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away. For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the cruelty of those terrible years, she harbours sweet memories too, of unexpected friends who risked their own lives in order to save hers. As Susannah’s time on earth draws to a close, her innermost thoughts of those long-gone days become questions—ones that demand answers. Against the wishes of her children, Susannah returns to Germany and the scene of unspeakable crimes. There she will come face to face with the Holocaust’s terrible, wretched legacy, and will finally make peace with the ghosts of her past.


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Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away. For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away. For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the cruelty of those terrible years, she harbours sweet memories too, of unexpected friends who risked their own lives in order to save hers. As Susannah’s time on earth draws to a close, her innermost thoughts of those long-gone days become questions—ones that demand answers. Against the wishes of her children, Susannah returns to Germany and the scene of unspeakable crimes. There she will come face to face with the Holocaust’s terrible, wretched legacy, and will finally make peace with the ghosts of her past.

30 review for The Sugar Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    It is not often that I come across a book that I am so engrossed in the story, that half my household chores are left undone. The Sugar Men was one such story! I had to check that this was a work of fiction, as it was so believable. Last year I visited a concentration camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau) in Poland and there were so many similarities to Bergen-Belsen. They to had a wall where prisoners were lined up and I thought how this could so easily have been the horror that Susannah experienced. I rar It is not often that I come across a book that I am so engrossed in the story, that half my household chores are left undone. The Sugar Men was one such story! I had to check that this was a work of fiction, as it was so believable. Last year I visited a concentration camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau) in Poland and there were so many similarities to Bergen-Belsen. They to had a wall where prisoners were lined up and I thought how this could so easily have been the horror that Susannah experienced. I rarely write what a story is about for fear of spoiling for others, but that apart, I would only be repeating what others have written. It is the first time that I have read any novels by this author and it certainly will not be my last. Such a moving book (had to wipe the odd tear away) and one I shall not forget for a long time to come. I can highly recommend. I received this book via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karyn Niedert

    "The Sugar Men" had a very interesting premise, but the delivery was awkward and unbelievable. Main character Susanna went through a horrific experience, kept in a German WW 2 concentration camp. I don't believe that 60 some years later her grown children are okay with her gallivanting across the ocean to come to terms with her losses. Particularly when she has been given mere months to live. Too trite, t0o glossed over, too unbelievable to truly sink in and enjoy the story.

  3. 5 out of 5

    G.J.

    I don't think it can be easy to write a fictional book about the incredibly difficult period of spending the war years " on the run" as a Jewish family ending in years as a prisoner of Bergen -Belsen concentration camp, but this book manages to do it well.There were one or two things which I found a bit unlikely, but the majority of this book made for interesting, if painful reading. The reality of dealing with concentration camp horrors as a young girl and finding a mechanism to handle these fo I don't think it can be easy to write a fictional book about the incredibly difficult period of spending the war years " on the run" as a Jewish family ending in years as a prisoner of Bergen -Belsen concentration camp, but this book manages to do it well.There were one or two things which I found a bit unlikely, but the majority of this book made for interesting, if painful reading. The reality of dealing with concentration camp horrors as a young girl and finding a mechanism to handle these for the rest of your days is done with sensitivity. I enjoyed the format of then and now , changing quite frequently. I wept towards the end.

  4. 5 out of 5

    linda

    I knew this book was a flashback fictional memoir. The subtitle, Holocaust Echoes, did not prepare me for the brutality of suzannah’s last days in Bergen Belsen. True, the whole book is disquieting but the end left me sobbing. It will grab you and you can’t erase what it does to your heart and mind.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diane Dunn

    Mixed feelings about this book. Have read many books on the Holocaust and wouldn’t rate this as highly as others. I was interested to hear of life in the Bergen-Belsen camp which differed from others in that families were allowed to stay together. The story develops as an elderly lady journeys back into her past trying to come to terms with what happened to her, and is mostly told from the perspective of Susannah the child. The last quarter of the book is probably the most interesting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Ricketts (Donnie Darko Girl)

    9/26/16 Yet another read I wanted to love but didn't. The time Susannah spent in a concentration camp was described in vivid, horrific detail, so much so that it didn't feel like fiction; however, the rest of the story wasn't nearly as engaging. The flashbacks were what I wanted to read about the most. 12/22/16 Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read and review a copy of this novel! As I recently wrote in a review for another book in which a fictional story was set during a real-life trag 9/26/16 Yet another read I wanted to love but didn't. The time Susannah spent in a concentration camp was described in vivid, horrific detail, so much so that it didn't feel like fiction; however, the rest of the story wasn't nearly as engaging. The flashbacks were what I wanted to read about the most. 12/22/16 Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read and review a copy of this novel! As I recently wrote in a review for another book in which a fictional story was set during a real-life tragedy (in that case, 9/11), it's tricky writing fiction with a horrific real-life event as the main event. There's a balance to be struck between keeping the facts of what really happened and the story you're trying to tell. I wanted to really love The Sugar Men but found I wasn't fully invested in it. While the beginning hooked me right away, I found parts of the story implausible and wasn't able to connect with the characters very well. The flashbacks were the most engaging parts of the novel, and I think the story would have fared better had the present been contained to the beginning and ending of the novel.   What I found most implausible was Susannah's journey back to Germany. With her illness, I don't think she would have been able to travel alone. I couldn't understand why she insisted on going alone. Why didn't she ask at least one of her kids to go with her? I also was surprised at how little her kids knew about her past. I can understand how she'd want to bury her past, but how do you keep all of that pain and anguish bottled up from people you love? I'd imagine it would have eventually spilled out long before it did. As I mentioned earlier, I had a difficult time connecting with Susannah and her kids, hence the 3 stars. Since her kids didn't know their mother as well as they thought, I felt as a reader I didn't, either. And her kids -- the reader learns very little about them. They were just kind of there almost as props.  On the plus side, the author researched the Holocaust thoroughly. I wanted more of Susannah's story when she was a kid, and I felt disappointed when the story swung back to the present. The time Susannah spent in a  concentration camp was described in such vivid horrific detail that it didn't feel like fiction; however, the rest of the story wasn't nearly as engaging. The flashbacks were what I wanted to read about the most. We hear so much about Auschwitz that it's easy to forget there were other camps with their own atrocities. The author did well with setting the story in a different concentration camp.   Overall, I'd still recommend The Sugar Men to anyone who's interested in learning more about the Holocaust because while Susannah is a fictional character, the author was able to put a face to this real-life tragedy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    This is the third book I have read by Ray Kingfisher and without a doubt it is the one that will leave the strongest impression on me, being a very powerful and moving read. It is the story of Susannah, a holocaust survivor who at the age of 80 is suffering from terminal cancer. For the past 60 years she has lived in denial of her past, suppressing all memories of her time in World War II and never discussing it with anyone. Now she decides it is time to visit Germany for the first time since her This is the third book I have read by Ray Kingfisher and without a doubt it is the one that will leave the strongest impression on me, being a very powerful and moving read. It is the story of Susannah, a holocaust survivor who at the age of 80 is suffering from terminal cancer. For the past 60 years she has lived in denial of her past, suppressing all memories of her time in World War II and never discussing it with anyone. Now she decides it is time to visit Germany for the first time since her rescue to lay her ghosts to rest and finally achieve some form of closure. When she arrives the memories start flooding back and we then learn all about her past in a no holds barred account of life in Bergen-Belsen. It is a very moving story, one that is vivid in description with the author doing a magnificent job of recreating that very real hell on earth. It is a book that really does stand as a first class testament to probably the most horrendous events in modern history and Susannah’s story will stay with me for a long time to come.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I would rate this book a 3.75. The first 85% of the book I really enjoyed. The end was a little boring. I really enjoy books based on a true story or historical events because I learn something in the process, and this was no exception. A great story about a Holocaust survivor. There were some typos, which drive me crazy, and I do want to tell the author that if he is going to write about Wilmington, NC in September, he needs to do his research. Our leaves are not turning colors and falling from I would rate this book a 3.75. The first 85% of the book I really enjoyed. The end was a little boring. I really enjoy books based on a true story or historical events because I learn something in the process, and this was no exception. A great story about a Holocaust survivor. There were some typos, which drive me crazy, and I do want to tell the author that if he is going to write about Wilmington, NC in September, he needs to do his research. Our leaves are not turning colors and falling from the trees in September!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robbi Leah Freeman

    Nazi Germany WW2. Follows the story of Susannah and her family from Berlin to the camps. Told as she is dying from cancer to her two children, David and Judy after a trip to visit the War Memorial. She is "the lucky one" and after a lifetime of trying to forget, goes back to remember. Well written, mostly fiction but some real events fit into narrative. Recommend to historical fiction fans and people interested in this time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rex

    This book was highly recommended to me by #1 book critic and reviewer, my daughter. She shared the synopsis with me knowing how I am typically drawn to books about World War II and the Holocaust. But it sounded a little "sappy" to me at first. Like it might have been a sort of romance novel set during that global conflict. Plus I had recently read Winter Men by Jasper Bugge Kold and literally had just finished Mischlings by Afinity Konar. I loved them both and feared The Sugar Men might be a let This book was highly recommended to me by #1 book critic and reviewer, my daughter. She shared the synopsis with me knowing how I am typically drawn to books about World War II and the Holocaust. But it sounded a little "sappy" to me at first. Like it might have been a sort of romance novel set during that global conflict. Plus I had recently read Winter Men by Jasper Bugge Kold and literally had just finished Mischlings by Afinity Konar. I loved them both and feared The Sugar Men might be a letdown. I could not have been more mistaken. This story hooked me from the start. Like many books in the historical fiction genre, it moves back and forth from the present to the past and gradually unveils how the events years - or decades - ago in a person's life affect them today. Surviving something like a Nazi concentration camp is probably one of the most life-altering experiences a person could have, and Ray Kingfisher did a masterful job of putting us into the thoughts and feelings of his amazing protagonist. His research into the events surrounding his story is impeccable. I found myself going online to look at maps or to read additional details about the various locations and camps that were central to the story. And this is what I love about good historical fiction and such well-crafted books as this one. It was both an emotional journey, but a highly educational one as well. Another thing Kingfisher did in the novel that I found incredibly satisfying centered on his great ability at keeping me guessing. Yes, I'm familiar with the Nazi camp system and know the history rather well. But the author added so many personal observations by his character and crafted so many unique surprises that I was constantly reading "just one more chapter." As a result, I read this book in record time -for me at least. And it is one of those novels of which I can truly say I wish it didn't have to end. Ray Kingfisher has another novel set during World War II that has moved to the top of my to-read list. It's called Rosa's Gold. I know nothing about it, but if it is half as intriguing, half as emotionally powerful as The Sugar Men, I'm certainly I'll be back soon to write another glowing review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenni DaVinCat

    Simply put, this book is enthralling and amazing and had me in tears at several points. Kingfisher is a new author for me and I've never read anything by him before, but after having read this, I know I'm going to keep my eye out for his other works and for anything that may come out in the future. It's always exciting to find a new author to follow. It means that their work has spoken to you, or touched you in such a way to make you want more. The characters in this book are fully developed and h Simply put, this book is enthralling and amazing and had me in tears at several points. Kingfisher is a new author for me and I've never read anything by him before, but after having read this, I know I'm going to keep my eye out for his other works and for anything that may come out in the future. It's always exciting to find a new author to follow. It means that their work has spoken to you, or touched you in such a way to make you want more. The characters in this book are fully developed and have several dimensions. You are made to feel as if you are close to these characters and truly know who they are, especially Susannah. The plot is very enjoyable and very well done. The transitions between modern day and WWII era are seamless. The dialogue is believable and sounds like a natural way of speaking, which to me, is important in a book. Choppy writing and unbelievable ways of speaking are a quick way to take me out of a book. Fortunately, The Sugar Men has wonderful writing and dialogue. For such a sensitive subject matter, I feel that Kingfisher approaches it respectfully and accurately. So often, WWII books that focus on Concentration Camps will only focus on the time spent in the camp but Kingfisher treats us to an entire life of someone who has retained those memories and everything that goes along with it. I was captivated with this book and had a hard time putting it down. If you are a fan of historical fiction, particularly WWII based, this will be an enjoyable read for you too. Highly recommended!

  12. 5 out of 5

    joan caryl jewitt

    Wonderful storyline! This book is just wonderful! It is the story of Susanna who is a holocaust survivor who, despite being terminally ill, feels the necessity to visit Belsen where she had been a prisoner during the war.

  13. 5 out of 5

    A.

    Excellent book. Loved the story line and had a hard time putting it down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    janet soucek

    The horror she lived in the camp, the life she lived raising her two children , trying to cope and live was most difficult for her , to have a just normal life wasn't going to happen for her nor for her family, how could anything be normal for her ever again. This book was so sad . Just to think of so many people who suffer from post stress disorder and have to try and live a somewhat normal life and just go on!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

    Even if I hadn't been a captive audience (on a 9 hour flight) this book would have drawn me in. This tale from a Holocaust survivor who kept her story a secret from her children until just before her impending death is poignant & powerful. Even though this book treads in territory & from a perspective we've seen before, the details and the twist on it, a visit back to exorcise long buried ghosts makes it just different enough to set it apart.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    "Perhaps seeing again how unlucky so many others had been- how a whole generation had had their lives and dreams stolen from them-would remind her how lucky she'd been to escape sixty-four years ago. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of the war those questions had dominated her life. Why had she escaped? What was so special about her? Why had God spared her and not some of the young children? Would she have been better had she been with them? Those thoughts and feelings had controlled her li "Perhaps seeing again how unlucky so many others had been- how a whole generation had had their lives and dreams stolen from them-would remind her how lucky she'd been to escape sixty-four years ago. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of the war those questions had dominated her life. Why had she escaped? What was so special about her? Why had God spared her and not some of the young children? Would she have been better had she been with them? Those thoughts and feelings had controlled her life for many years- and had almost ended it once. But she'd fought and beaten those demons." See reviews first on my blog When we first get to meet Susannah we see her as an adult who is dying, but as the story goes on we see her as a young girl living in a world that is slowly going to turn against her over the next few years that ultimately almost leaves her without anything in this world. Her family along with her aunt and uncle move to Netherlands to try and escape what was happening, but they can’t stay hidden forever sadly and eventually there luck ran out. Then we also get to see things from Judy who is Susannah’s daughter and how she is so worried about her mother and just wants to make her last bit of time on earth safe and comfortable. "She was aware, more than anyone else she knew, that sometimes life was for living-not for taking time to judge and plan and weigh things up." This story is told in memories and present day format. It is mostly told by the main character Susannah, but at times we also see things from her daughter Judy. This sounds like it would be confusing, but it wasn’t. Instead it made this book have even more layers and even all the more real, as I was reading I couldn’t get enough of it and kept wanting to know what happened to her. While yes we know she makes it through all of the ordeals, but there was still that wanting to know how she made and how she kept going when she was living in a version of hell on earth. I’ve missed reading historical fiction, but I didn’t realize how much until I was about half way through and I realized that I had almost read a book in less than two days which hasn’t happened for a while now. I also really like the writing of this story the author did such a good job and made you feel like you were really there with the character and seeing it all through her eyes. I’m sorry I’m not saying much about the plot, but I can’t because I don’t want to give anything away about what she had to do in order to keep her and her family alive while living through that time in Germany as a Jew. I loved how she was so strong up until she just couldn’t be anymore. Her friendship with Ester was one that was good for both of them and showed that just having a little bit of hope can help you stay alive even when it seems everything in the world is against you. "You must keep hoping,” Ester says. "You have to do your best to survive and hope that things will get better. Otherwise there's nothing-no point in living." Overall I would say that this is a book for everyone to read both young and old. It tells the horrors of the holocaust in a very real way without ever going into too much detail that would make the book too hard to read. I hope to read more by this author in the future. "I've spent too many years feeling guilty about living to feel guilty about dying now." Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    "The Sugar Men" by Ray Kingfisher depicts both the historical consequences and injusticies of the Holocaust and the present and how they affect the lead character and her family.Susannah Morgan is a survivor of the Holocaust, and now eighty years old, suffering from terminal cancer,want to come to terms with her past nightmares and get closure of her historical past. She travels to Germany, to revisit many of her past memories, and to put the nightmares to rest. It is my opinion that the author "The Sugar Men" by Ray Kingfisher depicts both the historical consequences and injusticies of the Holocaust and the present and how they affect the lead character and her family.Susannah Morgan is a survivor of the Holocaust, and now eighty years old, suffering from terminal cancer,want to come to terms with her past nightmares and get closure of her historical past. She travels to Germany, to revisit many of her past memories, and to put the nightmares to rest. It is my opinion that the author depicts an evil time, but not everyone is evil. During her visit, she remembers when she was a starving prisoner, that a packet of sugar helped and gave her hope of survival. "The Sugar Man" was an interesting read of the historical period and the aftermath of dealing with it. Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced Arc.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Near the end of her days, a terminally ill holocaust survivor travels back to Germany to lay to rest the memories that have haunted her life. Susannah was a teenager when the war ended and the British soldiers shut down the prison camp. Although she was free those memories and nightmares have tortured her for 65 years. They have become part of her very being and she can not let go of a past that is embedded in her soul and effected every aspect of her life from her shopping habits to her marriag Near the end of her days, a terminally ill holocaust survivor travels back to Germany to lay to rest the memories that have haunted her life. Susannah was a teenager when the war ended and the British soldiers shut down the prison camp. Although she was free those memories and nightmares have tortured her for 65 years. They have become part of her very being and she can not let go of a past that is embedded in her soul and effected every aspect of her life from her shopping habits to her marriage, to the way she has raised her children. This was a heart wrenching read. Have tissues near by. I received an advance copy for review

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joy D

    I read this book in one sitting while traveling across country by air, and found myself thoroughly engrossed in the story. It is the fictional account of a woman who survived the Holocaust as a prisoner in Bergen-Belsen. She continues to have nightmares and returns to Germany to confront her horrifically painful past. Recommended to those who enjoy family histories or historical fiction centered around the Holocaust.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I liked about 2/3rds of this book. It didn't know when to end and had some weird storylines (the meeting up with the British soldier and him holding her all night, the son losing his business, the relationship between the son and daughter . . .). But there was enough I liked to give it 3 stars. Not necessarily a book a would recommend though considering how many other better novels about this subject exist.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claude Bouchard

    Suzannah lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, has cancer, and has little time to live. She's been plagued by nightmares and terrible visions throughout her life. As a young Jewish girl living in Germany the early 1940s, she and her family were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she witnessed, and endured, unspeakable horror. In order to finally confront her nightmares before leaving this life, she returns to Germany to the camp she reluctantly called home for a couple of years. T Suzannah lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, has cancer, and has little time to live. She's been plagued by nightmares and terrible visions throughout her life. As a young Jewish girl living in Germany the early 1940s, she and her family were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she witnessed, and endured, unspeakable horror. In order to finally confront her nightmares before leaving this life, she returns to Germany to the camp she reluctantly called home for a couple of years. This book is quite intense and often makes you wonder whether you're reading fiction or a true first-hand account of the Holocaust. (It's fiction.) I didn't care much for the "current day" portions of the story: I found Suzannah's children irritating, the conversations were stiff, and the writing seemed to needlessly drag out certain scenes. The heart of the book, of course, is Suzannah's recollections of her life growing up in Germany, her family's initial escape to the Netherlands, and their eventual capture and internment in Bergen-Belsen. This part of the story is horrifying and utterly fascinating at the same time, and it is exceptionally well written. There are several sad, depressing, and shocking passages, as is expected with such a story, though I did not shed a tear (as others have done, based on the reviews I read). Overall, despite its slight faults, this was a very good story, and I greatly recommend this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christine Ottaway

    The Sugar Men tells the story of Susannah, who with her family were sent to the concentration camp, Bergen Belsen during the war because they were Jews. Susannah survived but at a great cost to her husband and family in later life. As she is dying of cancer she decides to go back to the site of the camp where she re-lives some of the horrors but also finds a measure of healing by re-connecting with the British soldier who rescued her. I think the strongest part of the book was the description of The Sugar Men tells the story of Susannah, who with her family were sent to the concentration camp, Bergen Belsen during the war because they were Jews. Susannah survived but at a great cost to her husband and family in later life. As she is dying of cancer she decides to go back to the site of the camp where she re-lives some of the horrors but also finds a measure of healing by re-connecting with the British soldier who rescued her. I think the strongest part of the book was the description of her experiences of being rescued as she floats on the edge of death. It really was well done. The weaknesses were in the details. Could a family of German Jews travel and settle in Amsterdam without drawing attention to themselves and the occupying Nazis? Were families able to mix in the camp each evening? Finally when Susannah was in London trying to make contact with the tommy who rescued her, she stayed in a hotel close to Buckingham Palace and close to the place where war records are kept. To my knowledge forces records are held in the National Archive in Kew (nowhere near Buckingham Palace) and there is no way anyone there would be able to contact an ex soldier or his family. Whether in books or films, I like good attention to detail that doesn’t rely on unlikely circumstances to keep the story moving along. Overall an interesting but not outstanding novel of the Holocaust.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary Hayes

    I finished this book, but as with a few others, I thought the finish might make it worth it. But, it didn't. It is a good description of what happened to millions of Jewish people. It portrayed the horrors in a very descriptive and vivid way. This was not the problem with the book. It begins with a Jewish widow and mother of two children who were born in America to an American man. It seems she has had a relatively good life here, though her awful memories haunt and impact her life. The only pr I finished this book, but as with a few others, I thought the finish might make it worth it. But, it didn't. It is a good description of what happened to millions of Jewish people. It portrayed the horrors in a very descriptive and vivid way. This was not the problem with the book. It begins with a Jewish widow and mother of two children who were born in America to an American man. It seems she has had a relatively good life here, though her awful memories haunt and impact her life. The only problem is as we meet her she is already dying of cancer, her husband is gone and her two children dote on her and help her through her sickness. But, she decides that she has enough stamina to revisit her place of internment in Germany, this is when she begins to relive her ordeal. Through this whole process she is describing her cancer effects, and this continues on and on through the whole book. Even when she's back safely in the US near her kids and in hospice the death spiral goes on and on and on. For an 80 some year old women who was able to outlive her tormentors, they make such a tragedy of her dying that is becomes somewhat unbelievable. To me she actually triumphed in her peaceful death, she ended her life as we all wish to, surrounded with our family and in her own home.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jo Edwards

    A story that should be retold, but... The story of what happened at Bergen-Belsen should never be forgotten and should be retold and retold so that future generations never make the same mistakes. Like many novels set in the European concentration camps of Workd War II, this part of the novel was poignant and moving, and strangely uplifting as they remind us of the resilience of the human psyche which is able to overcome such devastating cruelty. The author also reminds us that liberation of the c A story that should be retold, but... The story of what happened at Bergen-Belsen should never be forgotten and should be retold and retold so that future generations never make the same mistakes. Like many novels set in the European concentration camps of Workd War II, this part of the novel was poignant and moving, and strangely uplifting as they remind us of the resilience of the human psyche which is able to overcome such devastating cruelty. The author also reminds us that liberation of the camps was not the end of the story for the survivors, as they battled with health and mental problems, sometimes for years afterwards and ever for the rest of their lives. However, the parts of the book which followed Susannah's later illness and her relationship with her children were, I felt, rather laboured and unconvincing. The last few pages seemed to go on when everything that needed to be said had been said. Furthermore, without looking back, I had the sense that there was a lack of continuity during Susannah's visit to Germany... she is at the memorial, then she is speaking to her children from her hotel, then she is back at the memorial without apparently having gone there again. Overall, I felt the disappointingly-drawn framing story lets down what is otherwise a well-researched historical novel dealing sympathetically with important themes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to review this ARC of The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher. Susannah Morgan is an elderly widow, living in South Carolina and is quickly approaching the end of her days. Determined to face her past, she flies to Germany, and the place of her own personal hell during the Holocaust. While there she experiences horrific flashbacks of her days in the concentration camp, and all the unimaginable loss. She begins to open up to her adult children, and share with them a Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to review this ARC of The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher. Susannah Morgan is an elderly widow, living in South Carolina and is quickly approaching the end of her days. Determined to face her past, she flies to Germany, and the place of her own personal hell during the Holocaust. While there she experiences horrific flashbacks of her days in the concentration camp, and all the unimaginable loss. She begins to open up to her adult children, and share with them all she has lost. What a story, and it will shred your hearts to bits. But the beauty of stories like this is the redemption of human kindness. These are the kind of books that humble me and remind me of the tremendous suffering that is happening today, and how I can help to improve our world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Closer to 3.75 stars I feel. A quick moving, easy to read novel, though it is realistic to what went on in the camps in the violence and suffering. The characters are likeable and relatable though some aspects of the story can feel a little odd or outlandish. I did enjoy the main character, Suzeannah's sense of humour which helped to balance out some of the more harrowing moments for her. A lot of true to life scenarios and dialogue give this book a fair amount of it's weight, and one of the sto Closer to 3.75 stars I feel. A quick moving, easy to read novel, though it is realistic to what went on in the camps in the violence and suffering. The characters are likeable and relatable though some aspects of the story can feel a little odd or outlandish. I did enjoy the main character, Suzeannah's sense of humour which helped to balance out some of the more harrowing moments for her. A lot of true to life scenarios and dialogue give this book a fair amount of it's weight, and one of the story's key focuses; family-how it draw us together, strengthens us, drives us on and lifts us up. The other constant is the search for truth and memory, trying to recall what has almost purposely been worked to be forgotten, others that have slipped with time, but now with time itself slipping away, Suzeannah is driven to both recall and settle those memories.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Interesting fictional Holocaust book written from the viewpoint of an 80 year old survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Susannah Morgan, of Berlin Germany, and her family, get caught up in the horrors of WWII. Suzannah is a young teen when the entire family flees Germany for Amsterdam, followed by months of hiding on a milk farm, only to end up in Westervork and finally Bergen-Belsen. The premise of the book is that in last few months of her life, Susannah decides to return to German Interesting fictional Holocaust book written from the viewpoint of an 80 year old survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Susannah Morgan, of Berlin Germany, and her family, get caught up in the horrors of WWII. Suzannah is a young teen when the entire family flees Germany for Amsterdam, followed by months of hiding on a milk farm, only to end up in Westervork and finally Bergen-Belsen. The premise of the book is that in last few months of her life, Susannah decides to return to Germany to “visit” and try to “remember” the past to be able to tell her life story to her grown children. The first sections are similar to other books on this topic, but the last chapters are very emotional, as she confronts her past and answers her children's questions.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    "The Sugar Men" is a very moving novel about a holocaust survivor. I've read fiction and non fiction this year about WW II, about the terrors of war, the travesties inflicted on people because of race and religion and the horrible concentration camps. Ray Kingfisher wrote this story from a different perspective. The protagonist is a 15 year old girl, Susannah Morgan, (her married name) who lost all she cared about and almost her life in a concentration camp. Susannah, later in life, comes to ter "The Sugar Men" is a very moving novel about a holocaust survivor. I've read fiction and non fiction this year about WW II, about the terrors of war, the travesties inflicted on people because of race and religion and the horrible concentration camps. Ray Kingfisher wrote this story from a different perspective. The protagonist is a 15 year old girl, Susannah Morgan, (her married name) who lost all she cared about and almost her life in a concentration camp. Susannah, later in life, comes to terms with her demons when telling her story to her adult children, and when she returns to the scene of the crime, Bergen-Belsen. The author also delves into the hell survivors experienced after being rescued and brought back from near death. At the end of WW II, there was no such thing as post traumatic stress disorder. Victims were left to their own devices to cope. This is a memorable novel and I highly recommend it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I enjoyed this book. Historical fiction based around the events of WWII is currently my favorite genre. I liked the back and forth between the main character's past and present. It is hard to do well, and I believe the author did a wonderful job in this instance. I liked that her story unfolded carefully; layer by layer I was introduced to Susannah and made to understand her life. I have read some reviews that say some of the events in the book are too far-fetched and that they could/would/shoul I enjoyed this book. Historical fiction based around the events of WWII is currently my favorite genre. I liked the back and forth between the main character's past and present. It is hard to do well, and I believe the author did a wonderful job in this instance. I liked that her story unfolded carefully; layer by layer I was introduced to Susannah and made to understand her life. I have read some reviews that say some of the events in the book are too far-fetched and that they could/would/should never happen in real life. Please remember that this is an historical fiction novel with some historical fact sprinkled in. I would recommend this book to read if you have an interest in this time frame.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Graham cooper

    A good book and a subject that must be told again and again. I had no idea what this story would do to me, but, I am so glad I took the effort to read it and I was emotionally in tears for some of it. Having lived near Bergen Belsen for two years of my life whilst serving in the army and having visited the place twice, it brought home so many memories of that period in my life. I liked the character Susannah and her friend Ester and how they coped with living in hell, as the story unfolded I was A good book and a subject that must be told again and again. I had no idea what this story would do to me, but, I am so glad I took the effort to read it and I was emotionally in tears for some of it. Having lived near Bergen Belsen for two years of my life whilst serving in the army and having visited the place twice, it brought home so many memories of that period in my life. I liked the character Susannah and her friend Ester and how they coped with living in hell, as the story unfolded I was glad that we could see how Susannah coped and went back to confront her very real demons. Also meeting Teddy was a good move by the author, she was a strong woman and we know this to true of certain women all over the world. I would urge more people to read this gripping book.

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