But in 1923 a chance hearing of an aria from Madame Butterfly sparked a passion in the sisters that became a vehicle for both their greatest happiness and the rescue of dozens of Jews facing persecution and death.
Safe Passage is one of the most unusual and inspiring accounts to come out of the cataclysm of World War II. First published in 1950, Ida's memoir of the adventures she and Louise shared remains as fresh, vital and entertaining as the woman who wrote it. The Cook sisters' zest for life and genuine "goodness" shines through every page and explains why the leading opera singers of their day befriended and loved them. Even when Ida began to earn thousands as a successful romance novelist, the sisters never departed from their homespun virtues of thrift, hard work, self-sacrifice and unwavering moral conviction. They sewed their own clothes, traveled third class, bought the cheapest tickets during opera season and directed every spare resource, as well as their own considerable courage and ingenuity, toward saving as many people as they could from Hitler's death camps.
Uplifting and utterly charming, Safe Passage is moving testimony to all that can be achieved when conscience and compassion are applied to a collapsing world.
I remember reading Harlequin romances written by Ida Cook under the pen name Mary Burchell and then learning that Ida and her sister were actually Righteous Gentiles who helped rescue Jews from Germany in the lead up to the WWII, I had to read their story. Of course, this book isn't just about their "cases" it is also about their love of opera and the friendships that these two unassuming and yet adoring fangirls/groupies made with some of the most famous conductors and performers of the age. The girls had moxie. They were working girls, earning a pittance as clerks, sitting in the cheapest seats in the opera houses of London, standing in line to meet the singers as they arrived at the theater and talking with them and getting to know them and eventually to be come life long friends with a number of them. It was under cover of their love of opera and through their contact with these international stars that they were able to help a dozen or so people leave Germany. Safe Passage tells their story.
AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY
I read this because Ida Cook, the writer, helped refugees escape Nazi Germany. About half of the book is about Ida and her sister's beginnings. Plus, it's about how the 2 sisters save money and enjoy their passion, opera. I didn't think this part would be interesting, at first. But, you can't get to the later versions of Ida and Louise unless you hear about their determination to save money and travel to their favorite operas. It shows how resourceful they are in the first half of the book. This resourcefulness gives them the wherewithal to rescue the refugees and brave the Blitz later on in the book.
I recommend this to mine and my children's generation. Nothing is too hard or impossible to reach to these sisters.
I thought the narrator was marvelous. She did great imitations and accents. I felt like I was there during all of their experiences as the writing was spellbinding and the narration got my attention from the beginning.
I especially loved the part about life in London during the Blitz. I needed to know this part of world history. It was the little guy's view of history. Well written and incredibly interesting from start to finish.