Hidden in Plain Sight

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
250 Pages
Reviewed on 12/18/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Darryl Greer for Readers' Favorite

According to author Karen Batshaw’s note at the end of Hidden In Plain Sight, during the World War II Nazi occupation of Greece, 80% of Greek industry and 90% of ports, roads, railways and bridges were destroyed, 25% of all forests were decimated and over 1,000 villages were burned to the ground; 40,000 people died of starvation in Athens alone. Greece has the sad distinction of being home to the largest percentage of Jews annihilated in Europe. Around 87% of Greek Jews were murdered; Salonika lost 97% of its Greek Jews. Karen Batshaw has set her novel against this background. Anna, a vibrant young Sephardic Jewess from Salonika who is qualified as a doctor, is sent by her father to close friends, a Greek Orthodox family in Athens, in an endeavor to keep her from harm. As the book’s title suggests, she is hidden by posing as a nurse, pretending to be a Greek Orthodox Christian, attending services, wearing a crucifix and generally giving all outward appearances of being of the Christian faith. While living with this family, Anna falls in love with a member of the household, Alexander, also a doctor. Working together as doctor and nurse, they tend the sick and wounded, but one day the home has an invasion of its own when a Nazi officer decides to take it over. He ‘magnanimously’ allows the family to stay, but Anna is constantly on edge in case her real identity is let slip to this visitor from hell. Threaded throughout the narrative, we are taken to events in the year 1963 involving Anna’s daughter, Suzanne, a charming, talkative 19-year-old from America on a holiday in Greece. When Suzanne injures her foot, there is a chance meeting at a local hospital which triggers an extraordinary chain of events.

Hidden In Plain Sight is a fascinating tale, guaranteed to enthrall as well as shock. The world has had over seven decades to learn every intricate, disturbing detail of the Holocaust, yet here is a story, set in a country that is not usually the focus of Nazi atrocities against the Jews, which shines a spotlight on one particular household and the devastation it suffers at the hands of just one Nazi officer. Yet, parallel with each day’s abominations, a beautiful love story is gathering momentum. From the powerful opening to the touching denouement, Karen Batshaw takes her reader on a journey that will simultaneously shock, disturb, amaze and warm the heart. Not an easy feat. Hidden In Plain Sight is an incredible tale of remarkable heroism in the face of horrors of Kafkaesque proportions. The research required for the background historical setting must have been exhaustive. I usually read, write and review thrillers, but this romantic novel gripped me throughout. Look out for the movie — this story would make a riveting film.

Romuald Dzemo

Hidden in Plain Sight by Karen Batshaw is a powerful story of love with a compelling cast of characters and an exciting setting against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of Greece. Intelligently plotted, well-researched, and deftly crafted, this novel allows readers to have a strong glimpse of the plight of the Jews in Greece during the German occupation and the role of the church in protecting them. But it is also a story of one woman’s search for meaning in the midst of the chaos happening in the country. Anna is a young woman sent to Athens by her father for fear of her life in her native Salonika. She has to hide her faith and her profession as a trained doctor. She falls in love with an Orthodox Christian, Alexander, but can their love survive the political and social turmoil?

Karen Batshaw has created a story that has relevant historical undertones, a story that reads like history. The reader is left in no doubt that this novel has been well-researched, thanks to the setting and the realism injected into the narrative. The author allows readers to get a vivid picture of the Greek world and the Jewish traditions, leading them to places they could hardly imagine. I enjoyed the writing which features great prose and beautiful dialogues. The author’s unique phraseology and irresistible narrative voice will grab readers and keep them riveted throughout the narrative. The characters are so real that readers will find themselves aching for them. Hidden in Plain Sight is a delightful tale that is, without doubt, a page-turner, a story that plunges the reader into an exciting historic moment.

Lisa McCombs

While Suzanne Caplan is vacationing in Greece with school friends, she unexpectedly requires the attention of a doctor who announces he is her father. “Are you nuts! My father is dead, and he most certainly was Jewish.” “I am Greek Orthodox, and I am your father.” And so begins Hidden In Plain Sight by Karen Batshaw. In this hypnotic historical fiction account of the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II, Karen Batshaw paints an unnerving picture of the Jewish plight in a stereotypical culture of peace and harmony. In the early years of the war, Anna Carraso is placed on a train from Salonika and sent to Athens with falsified papers and a new identity in what her father hopes is best for his daughter’s future. As Anna resumes the name her Christian family assigns her, she struggles with the ever growing guilt of abandoning her Jewish faith.

Hidden In Plain Sight is one of the most powerful tales of the German occupation experienced by this reader. Karen Batshaw weaves her story with a tight narrative and emotional detail that encompasses the very essence of the time frame. “…so many names. So many wonderful people all gone because of the madness.” What human has not thought this in reference to Hitler’s reign? As Batshaw’s story unfolds, the reader is drawn into an engaging narrative that fluctuates over a time span of twenty plus years. The emotions are raw and the dialogue reflects the pain felt by the characters. Hidden in Plain Sight, though fictional, is gripping in the probability of fact based information. Thank you, Karen Batshaw, for this addition to historical fiction.