Review: James Moloney’s ‘The Love That I Have’

 

The Love That I Have
James Moloney

For fans of The Book Thief, a powerful and heartbreaking story set during WW2 that stays with you long after the final page is read.

Margot Baumann hasleft school to take up her sister’s job in the mailroom of a large prison. Butthis is Germany in 1944, and the prison is Sachsenhausen concentration campnear Berlin.

Margot is shielded from the camp’s brutality as she has no contact with prisoners. But she does handle their mail and, when given a cigarette lighter and told to burn the letters, she is horrified by the callous act she must carry out with her own hands. This is especially painful since her brother was taken prisoner at Stalingrad and her family have had no letters from him. So Margot steals a few letters, intending to send them in secret, only to find herself drawn to their heart-rending words of hope, of despair, and of love.

This is how Margot comes to know Dieter Kleinschmidt – through the beauty and the passion of his letters to his girlfriend.

And since his girlfriend is also named Margot, it is like reading love letters written for her.

From award-winning Australian author James Moloney, comes a fresh and compelling story about love, loss and profound bravery.

 

What AusRom Today thought:
The Love That I Have is a delicately written novel that focuses on an almost naively idealistic Margot Baumann, a young German woman working in the mailroom of Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin in 1944. Having had brothers in the war, including one who was captured and held prisoner at Stalingrad, Margot is dismayed by the fact that prisoners’ letters to their loved ones are routinely destroyed by the Germans, a task she is quickly enlisted to perform. Against the rules, Margot secretly smuggles letters from the prison and forwards them on to the prisoners’ families with the belief that the prisoners’ should be afforded the dignity of having their mail sent on to their families and loved ones. In doing this, Margot connects with a prisoner Dieter Kleinschmidt with whom she starts communicating through letters and eventually through face-to-face visits. Through a series of lucky/unlucky coincidences, Margot is able to positively affect Dieter’s life in the camp which in the end saves his life.

The Love That I Have is novel that encapsulates with the greatest of empathy, the vulnerability, compassion, and difficulties faced by both imprisoned and ‘free’ Germans during WWII. Moloney masterfully shows that owing to the division created during WWII there was no freedom for anyone, imprisoned or otherwise. Margot and Dieter’s relationship is one of mutual respect, compassion, heartbreak, and triumphant love.

The Love That I Have  is a timeless and utterly heartwarming yet heartbreaking love story. I read this book in early January and though it is now March, I can honestly say I’ve thought of this story often and fondly.

 

 

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