The Zookeeper’s Wife – Book Review

Zookeeper's Wife coverTwo of my coworkers are reading Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife for their book club this week and they asked me if I had seen or read it before.  Since I had not, I looked it up and was fairly intrigued.  One of the ladies who was to read it for book club received her copy from the library earlier than she expected she would and let me take it for the weekend, as she was busy reading Three Cups of Tea.

The Zookeeper’s Wife takes place in Warsaw, Poland immediately before and during WWII.  This true story is told from the point of view of, if you could not guess, the wife of the keeper of the Warsaw zoo.  Her husband, Jan, is very involved in the Polish Underground, the resistance against the Nazis, and they hide Jews in their villa at the zoo to smuggle them out of the ghetto and to freedom.  People are hidden in rooms and closets in their house, as well as in some of the deserted animal cages (many animals were taken or killed by the Nazis, and some escaped when cages were damaged in bombings).

The narrative flow of this book strongly reminded me of Devil in the White City: Ackerman jutted off into quite a few side-stories about people, culture, and events surrounding the story just as Larson did.  However, while Larson’s occasionally diverted me from the actual story and had a tendency to get a bit dry, Ackerman used this technique more to explain some of the back story of what was going on in order to enrich the main story.

I felt that this book gave a very full picture of what was happening in and around Warsaw during the Nazi invasion and really helped the reader connect to the events by telling the story through a colorful and heroic family.

Buy this book on Amazon: The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story

5 comments to The Zookeeper’s Wife – Book Review

  • This is another one for my TBR list!

  • Heather

    I’ve had this on my last since last year – glad to know you enjoyed it!

  • I loved this book and want to read it again. I borrowed it from the library the first time and am still waiting for one through Bookmooch or Readers United. I don’t think anyone wants to give theirs up. It was certainly an exceptional account and it made me want to read more of Diane Ackerman’s work. Glad you reviewed it. So did I but only a couple sentences.

  • I notice that you really did not say anything supremely positive about recommending the book. I have tried to read it – my area of study has always been the Holocaust in Europe – but for some reason I just cannot get past the first few chapters…any encouraging words would be delightful!

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