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Publisher's Summary

In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel". They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.

Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, Louise Murphy's haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel tells a resonant, riveting story.

©2003 Louise Murphy (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Lyrical, haunting, unforgettable." ( Kirkus, Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Intriguing Title

As I am sure was the point: it was the title that intrigued me.

It was a clever way to weave the fairy tale into a story, but over all I didn’t love it. Not a bad story, but more disturbing and alarming than interesting and compelling… of course the plight of Jews in WW2 is disturbing; but I’ve read better.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is the best experience.

Couldn’t get enough of story. Kept me wanting more. The narration melded me with each character. Highly recommend.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ellen
  • California, USA
  • 08-20-18

A creative retake on a classic fairy tale

The classic tale of Hansel & Gretel, the witch in the forest and the trail of bread crumbs reimagined as a harrowing struggle for survival in Poland during the Nazi occupation. Vivid dialogue and characters.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great narration; content disturbing

I almost didn't finish listening to this book; the content and details were extremely graphic and upsetting. The story was engaging. Another example of the horrors of war and, sadly, pertinent in our world today.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

although tough truths, story is interesting.

I had a hard time listening to war realities. Very good mixing the story with history. I did want to know about the characters.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Don't miss out!

Wow! I LOVED IT! So cleverly written and engrossing. It kept me on the edge. A MUST READ/LISTEN!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Rated R for violence & rape

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who aren't bothered by awful details about a child being raped

Has The True Story of Hansel and Gretel turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I love historical fiction.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The True Story of Hansel and Gretel?

I would cut out the gruesome language & unnecessary details about the awful things that happened in the book.

Any additional comments?

Not for people who like to keep their entertainment PG13. I felt like I lost a bit of my innocence.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping. Haunting. Poweful

I was drawn into the world and the lives of a small village of Polish peasants impoverished and brutalized by war. A place surrounded by a primeval and richly beautiful forest where the daily aspects of sacrifice, horror, fear and the power of love are played out. And of two Jewish children rescued and taken in by an outcast "witch" named Magda..

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Very realistic and painful

I recommend that you read this book with a open heart and mind and allow it to flow in you. very great story

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poor language/distasteful details.

Poor language and distasteful details, doesn't match era in time. Could leave out vulgarity.
No more to say ok ok

0 of 1 people found this review helpful