“She told herself that to have something of worth in a world full of chaos was the very definition of beauty. It felt like a spiritual liberation that couldn’t be silenced. These prisoners, the ones who painted or wrote poetry or played in the orchestra – they refused to let that spirit die. And this, she decided, is why the heart creates.
God plants the talent and it grows, sustained by a spirit giving strength to endure, even in the midst of darkness. It thrives in the valleys of life and ignores the peaks. It blooms like a flower when cradled by the warmth of the sun. It remains in a hidden stairwell in a concentration camp. It grows, fed in secret, in the heart of every artist.
The God-worship of every life – this was the art of Auschwitz.”
Excerpt from The Butterfly and the Violin pp. 277-278
In the summer of 2014, a new author named Kristy Cambron emerged from Thomas Nelson publishers with her debut novel – The Butterfly and the Violin. This story of incredible courage – the courage to find beauty and strength in the midst of death, darkness, and destruction – is an unforgettable reading experience. Painting vivid pictures in her readers’ minds, Ms. Cambron is truly an artist with words, making this book the first of a very aptly named series of Hidden Masterpiece Novels.
Unquestionably the most fascinating asset of The Butterfly and the Violin is revealed through its fresh voice and rich uniqueness, both of which come from many different areas… Two stories weave among each other as a modern day art collector uncovers the 70-year-old story of a strangely poignant portrait created during World War II. The harsh setting from inside a Nazi concentration camp is contrasted sharply with present day Manhattan in back-to-back chapters, but somehow the shift never feels abrupt, or difficult to understand. With careful finesse, the double storyline parallels, contrasts, and connects in unexpected yet beautiful ways, adding rather than detracting from the flow of the story.
Although the brutal, bleak reality of concentration camp life is never glossed over or sugar-coated in the story, neither is it focused on as hopeless, or as the living death it must have felt like. Horrors are depicted. They were real, and The Butterfly and the Violin doesn’t pretend they weren’t. But it helps us to remember that God is inside each one of His people, and where God is, beauty is, too. Certainly death is real, but death was overcome by Life – at the same time fear was overcome by hope, and ugliness by beauty. If you take the time to read this remarkable book, and I sincerely hope you do, you will find glimpses of these truths, and many others besides, hidden among the pages of this masterpiece of words.
*** This book was provided courtesy of HarperCollins Canada, in exchange for my honest review. It is available for purchase at bookstores from Thomas Nelson Publishers.