Simons (The Pure, 2012) tells the World War II story of a young German-Jewish émigré in England.
In 1930s Berlin, Jewish surgeon Otto Klein and his family—wife Inga, eldest child Heinrich, toddler Hedi and middle child Rosa—are increasingly aware of the anti-Jewish sentiment sweeping the country and are subject to the government’s restrictive laws. But Otto refuses to believe this is a lasting threat. Even when police official and family friend Wilhelm Krützfeld tries to warn the family they’re on a list to be targeted, Otto refuses his help. Subsequently, on Kristallnacht, Otto and Heinrich are rounded up and detained in a concentration camp. Inga and the girls escape, although Rosa barely avoids capture when she flees from a former family employee. After Otto and Heinrich are freed (thanks to Krützfeld’s help), Otto knows he needs to find a means to get his family out of Germany. After trying to obtain visas at various embassies, to no avail, Otto and Inga seize the opportunity to secure a seat on a Kindertransport train to England for one of the children. The parents choose 15-year-old Rosa, who bears the responsibility of finding safe passage so the rest of the family can join her. Once in England, Rosa is sponsored by Otto’s ultrareligious cousin Gerald and his wife, Mimi, who treats Rosa like a servant. Unlike his parents, 18-year-old Samuel is more sympathetic and tries to help Rosa in her effort to seek employment and visas for her family. After fruitless months of searching, she finally travels to the home of Baron de Rothschild, who agrees to help. What follows are definitive moments in Rosa’s life as she taps into her own strength of character, pursues her dreams, weathers personal losses and endures the inevitable hardships of war. Simons provides excellent details that enhance the credibility of his plot and provide substance to his characters.
Simons’ compassion, sincerity and subtle style impress.