The God­dess of Warsaw

  • Review
By – May 24, 2024

This work of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion details the time before, dur­ing, and after the War­saw Ghet­to Upris­ing. The sto­ry moves in time between 1956 and 2005 Hol­ly­wood and 1943 Poland dur­ing the Nazi takeover.

For­mer­ly mem­bers of wealthy soci­ety, Bina Blon­s­ki and her hus­band, Jakub, are cramped into the War­saw Ghet­to along with the rest of the Pol­ish Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. Jakub is a jour­nal­ist work­ing hard to doc­u­ment all the heart­break­ing cur­rent events for pos­ter­i­ty. Jakob’s broth­er, Alexan­der, is an artist who’s mar­ried to Bina’s friend, Kari­na. His life is turned upside down when the Nazis mur­der Kari­na and their children.

Bina is a beau­ti­ful, ele­gant woman, a con­vinc­ing actress, and the only Jew in her the­ater troupe. She is blonde and eas­i­ly blends in with non-Jews. Her fel­low actor and best friend, Stach, is the son of the cru­el Nazi baron” Sobies­ki, who is ris­ing in pow­er. Stach is a great dis­ap­point­ment to his busi­ness-mag­nate father because of his choice of career, his severe­ly blem­ished face, and his sex­u­al orientation. 

When Bina is exposed as a Jew and ban­ished from the the­ater, she uses her act­ing tal­ents to spy for the resis­tance. She works for war­rior leader Zel­da, obtain­ing basic food and weapons. She does what­ev­er it takes to ensure Jew­ish sur­vival — even if it means lying, steal­ing, and killing. 

Her first mis­sion involves rid­ding the neigh­bor­hood of the Jews-turned-trai­tors who assist the Nazis in order to save them­selves. She then pro­pos­es a scheme to pre­vent the community’s Jew­ish girls from becom­ing forced sex slaves for the Nazis. Many of Bina’s exploits are described in hor­rif­ic detail.

Mean­while, the author turns to 1956 Hol­ly­wood to fol­low the sto­ry of actress Lena Brown­ing, for­mer­ly known as Bina, who is still oper­at­ing as a spy and assas­sin. She becomes inter­est­ed in Oper­a­tion Paper­clip, a top-secret intel­li­gence pro­gram in which high-rank­ing Nazi sci­en­tists are being released from pun­ish­ment. They’ve been whisked away and giv­en new iden­ti­ties by the US gov­ern­ment, which wants to use their spe­cial skills to strength­en the US against Russia.

Next we move to 2006, when Lena Brown­ing is an old actress, still known for her per­fect face. Sien­na Hayes is an equal­ly beau­ti­ful and ambi­tious actress who goes to Lena with a cre­ative vision. Sien­na dreams of direct­ing a film por­tray­ing Lena’s exploits and play­ing the star­ring role. When Lena finds out that old ene­mies have sur­vived, she is moved to work with Sien­na as a means of enact­ing a final vic­to­ry over the Nazis.

This book is a fast read, with vivid descrip­tions of places and time peri­ods. A roman­tic plot occu­pies a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the sto­ry. Full of sex, dra­ma, and his­tor­i­cal­ly accu­rate vio­lence, The God­dess of War­saw seems like the per­fect can­di­date to be made into a film.

Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams, mom, grand­mom, avid read­er, some­time writer, born in Havana, raised in Brook­lyn, resid­ing in Long Beach on Long Island. Long­time for­mer One Region One Book chair and JBC liai­son for Nas­sau Hadas­sah, cur­rent­ly pre­sent­ing Inci­dent at San Miguel with author AJ Sidran­sky who wrote the his­tor­i­cal fic­tion based on her Cuban Jew­ish refugee family’s expe­ri­ences dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. Flu­ent in Span­ish and Hebrew, cer­ti­fied hatha yoga instructor.

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