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Monday, 23 April 2018

The Zookeeper’s Wife ~ Diane Ackerman

Skip the movie and read the book.  The book is a wonderful, enriching, poignant read and I know the essence of it will stay with me for a long time. I am definitely recommending it to others to read. 
I think the last few chapters lacked the depth and charm the rest of the book had so it slid from a solid 5 to 4.5 for me; however, how do you end a book about someone who has lived with such courage, faith, and, depth of character during a time of horror and heartache in WWII, and then passes away in almost obscurity in 1971?
Ackerman shared various interviews reporters had with Jan concerning his wife Antonina:

    In all, around three hundred people passed through the way station of the Warsaw Zoo, en route to the rest of their nomadic lives.  Jan always felt, and said publicly, that the real heroine of this saga was his wife, Antonina.  “She was afraid of the possible consequences, she was terrified the Nazi’s would seek revenge against us and our young son, terrified of death, and yet she kept it to herself, and helped me [with my Underground activities] and never ever asked me to stop.”
“Antonia was a housewife, she wasn’t involved in politics or war, and was timid, and yet despite that she played a major role in saving others and never complained about the danger.”
“Her confidence could disarm even the most hostile, her strength stemmed from her love of animals”.  (clipped)
She had a very traditional Catholic upbringing and that didn’t deter her.  On the contrary, it strengthened her determination to be true to herself, to follow her heart, even though it meant enduring a lot of self-sacrifice”

    Intrigued by the personality of rescuers, Malka Drucker and Gay Block interviewed over a hundred, and found they shared certain key personality traits.  Rescuers tended to be decisive, fast-thinking, risk-taking, independent, adventurous, openhearted, rebellious, and unusually flexible – able to switch plans, abandon habits, or change ingrained routines at a moment’s notice.  They tended to be nonconformists, and though many rescuers held solemn principles worth dying for, they didn’t regard themselves a heroic.  Typically, one would say, as Jan did:  “I only did my duty – if you can save somebody’s life, it’s your duty to try.”  Or:  “ We did it because it was the right thing to do.”
  Excerpt from The Zookeeper's Wife pg: 306 -307

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The number beside each book is my personal rating for the book, or audiobook, at the time of reading with the range being:

(1) = would not recommend,

(2) = some interesting aspects but not one of my recommended reads,

(3) = would recommend.

(4) = Really good, enjoyable, (or worthy) read, would definitely recommend

(5) = Excellent book, highly recommend