In 1944, Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, to maintain her cover as von Schmidt’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths, Stella appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s indulgence gives her hope even as she risks discovery with every attempt to help the prisoners. When her bravery brings her to the point of ultimate sacrifice, she faces an excruciating choice. God may have brought her to the camp for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she cannot save herself?
What I Loved: When I picked up the novel, I somehow missed the fact that it was an Esther retelling. I was blown away by the nearly-modern retelling. Simply put, it was brilliant! We often forget the emotions involved in the Bible stories we’ve studied our whole lives. Seeing these real people brought out and retold in a setting that we’re more familiar and more sensitive to had really put things in perspective. Esther married the king and he loved her. My mind had always accepted the facts, but viewing Hadassah’s feelings forced me look at the Biblical story in a new way.
Warning: This probably goes without saying, but I’ll point it out anyway. The setting and subject in this novel is heavy and at times intense. I think Kate did an amazing job with such a tough subject. I never felt she was trying to shock the reader, but she didn’t cover up the conditions of a concentration camp. Sensitive readers might be overwhelmed.
Rating and Recommendation: I really enjoyed For Such a Time and give it 5 stars. I recommend it to those that like Christian fiction, WWII fiction, or Biblical retellings.