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Review: Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma

Over the last few months, I have found myself immersed in a number of books set during WWII (it also seems that I am enjoying more WWII movies as hubby and I have watched a couple of them this past weekend). Sarah Sundin was the first author that I enjoyed reading a WWII novel, and while most of her stories take place on the American bases, it was an invitation to an area of historical fiction I typically stayed away from. Since reading the first book written by her, I’ve been slowly adding WWII era books to some of my favorites. 

Daisies are Forever is the second book by Liz Tolsma that I’ve read. The first book I read, Snow on the Tulips, focuses on the Dutch Resistance. Daisies are Forever also focuses on a unique situation during WWII. It follows refugees fleeing westward as Russia invaded Germany. Again, this was a piece of WWII history I was unfamiliar with.

Interested in winning a copy of Prelude for a Lord? Click here for details.

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**I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family. Prussia, 1945 The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst. Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her. The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye, Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Josep Cramer. Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family. With the world at its darkest, and the lives of two children at stake, the counterfeit couple finds in each other a source of faith, hope, and the love they need to survive.

Daisies are Forever was an intense novel. For me, it seemed like the stakes were raised a little bit more with each turn of the page.

For both of the main characters, Mitch and Gisela, each has a need pressing them to move west. Gisela is escaping with her two nieces and elderly neighbors while the Russians are invading Prussia. Gisela is also trying to escape a past mistake. Mitch has spent the last 5 years in a POW camp and is trying to move West to join back up with either the British or Americans. For him, any part of Germany is dangerous. The Russians pose a constant threat, as they fire upon the opposing military as well as civilians.

This book captured everything from the perils of moving across Prussia and Germany in the middle of winter to the threat the Russians brought to the fleeing refugees. This same threat, paired with the bombing of Berlin makes for a page-turning book.

To help protect Mitch, Gisela decides to pretend that they are married. Within this lie, their true feelings for one another begin to develop. The love story aspect of this novel developed slowly and naturally. With so much against them, the least of all being survival, I couldn’t wait to see how this part of the story would unfold.

My one complaint of the novel was that it seemed to have ended quite abruptly, and then picked up again in the epilogue a year later. It left a few unanswered questions concerning Mitch’s family and a few threads from the war and some of their other companions that Mitch and Gisela take shelter with.

The characters were a wonderful group with a number of personalities, and the threats working against the characters had me quite worried for them. There were a few great scenes dealing with relying on God and faith that also felt quite natural to the context of the story. Overall, Daisies are Forever was a great novel that was hard to put down.

I would love to hear from you! What WWII novels have you read that take place in a unique aspect of the war? Any WWII novels that are among your favorites?

If this novel interests you, you may also be interested in Liz Tolsma’s Snow on the Tulips. Click Here to read my review.

For more on the author or this book, please check out the following links:

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14 thoughts on “Review: Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma

  1. Thanks for the review! Some of my favorite WWII novels are by Sarah Sundin! I’ve only read her “Wings of Glory” Series and I can’t wait to read more of her books! I also love to re-read Jack Cavanaugh’s “Songs in the Night” series every now and then. They’re pretty awesome as well. 🙂

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  2. I haven’t read from either of the WWII authors that you’ve mentioned, but both are on my reading lists. I love WWII fiction almost as much as I love Civil War fiction.I also enjoy WWI and Revolutionary War fiction (although R.W. fiction is much harder to come by. If you find some goods ones–Christian ones only–, pass them along!) I’ve recently discovered that I’m a big fan of war fiction in general. There’s something about the real drama that plays out in the background that adds to the story itself.
    I’ve recently started a book shelf specifically for war fiction on Goodreads. I’ve divided it by Civil War fiction and Post C.W. fiction (all books on those lists I highly recommend). And WWII and WWI fiction that I recommend and then last but not least a To read of war shelf. The collection is growing and I’m gearing up to veg out on war fiction soon. 🙂
    Now…what are my favorites?? Did you know that Lynn Austin wrote 2 WWII books that make it my favorites list? Lol surprised? Probably not! But seriously, both are fantastic. Both are centered here in the U.S. and is centered on women that are left behind. While both novels are very different story lines, both carry the theme of women learning to work in a man’s world. The love stories are heart warming and the realities of this time are educational. Both also touched on different persecutions taking place in America during that time, that gets little attention these days. One book focused on the continual persecution of black people and the other of Jews in America. Before reading these books, when I thought of war, I thought of battles in Europe and rations in America. But my eyes have been open to a very different battle taking place here at home. Women’s rights become a secondary issue in both books as well.
    Another stand out book during that time is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. You may have heard the name, may have heard of the book, but if you haven’t read it, it’s a must read. Just in case you’ve never heard of it, it’s the true story written by Corrie, herself, about working the underground railroad before and during the war. It’s an amazing inspiring story.
    Happy Reading to you!!

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    1. I do know of Corrie Ten Boom… And have the book somewhere that my mom had owned… Haven’t read it but I vaguely remember seeing a movie.

      If you want some excellent WWII fiction, my favorite is Sarah Sundin. I probably wouldn’t read too much of it if I had never started reading her Wings of Glory series. I think my heart might have stopped a few times reading it. Plus her novels have strong Christian themes and wonderful characters.

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    2. So after I finally went to bed last night, I was trying to think of any Revolutionary war novels. And you are right, there aren’t many. The only one I could think of (at least recently) that’s I’ve read is The Immigrant Brides Collection: 9 Stories Celebrate Settling in America. It is a collection of novellas about the settling of America. From what I remember, one is definitely set in the RW, but I can’t remember if there was more than that.

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    3. I’m just going to keep leaving more replies here 🙂

      I just thought of another Revolutionary War novel, The Messenger by Siri Mitchell. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read a number of Siri’s novels, and they have all been quite good. I think nearly all of her novels are set in a different era of history.

      Another one that is on my to-read list is The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz. Again, I haven’t read it, but I think I’ve read every other novel by Laura Frantz (I haven’t read Love’s Fortune that was just released, but my copy is sitting on my shelf) and again, they are extremely good! (Courting Marrow Little is probably one of my favorites, dealing more with Colonization and the Native Americans).

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      1. Thanks for all the replies! I love them! Sarah Sundin has been on my list for ages now and one of these days I’m going to actually read one. There seems to be so much to read at once. Like I said, I’ve purposely stayed close to the C.W fiction while I was writing (which I’m back at it, finally!!) and even then the to read list is longer than my arm! Lol Oh well, I guess it’s a happy problem.
        I have The Messenger on my kindle and haven’t read it yet. I love that time period, but we seem to be lacking in that department. I’ve tried reading Rita Geralch (I may have spelled that wrong). She writes during that time period too, but sadly I didn’t enjoy her work at all. And after reading the reviews she seemed to have the same problems (plot problems) in all her work. Lots of people love her books….but I was in the minority that couldn’t connect. I was soooo disappointed since she’s had tons of them for free at one time or another on the kindle and I had quite a collection growing.
        Someone had given me a name for R.W. fiction on goodreads, but I don’t remember who it was. I’ll have to track it back down and look for some of their books.
        I also have Courting Morrow on the kindle. But I’ll have to look for the Colonel’s Lady at the Library. It sounds like the kind of thing I would love. It sounds really familiar,. but I can’t see the cove in my head.

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      2. I haven’t heard of Rita Geralch before… I might just stay away. I don’t enjoy plot problems.

        I think you are right though, that R.W. is lacking, at least in the Christian Fiction market. I wonder why? It actually seems kind of odd because of all the Puritan beliefs and such for the era.

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  3. That’s a good point. Maybe the history seems more difficult or something. I know for myself, I have considered the idea since it’s such a love of mine. But living in TN with little to no travel opportunities makes researching the historic sites much harder. The Civil War becomes a natural fit when you find battle fields without searching for them. It’s something southerners tend to be really passionate about too. I talked to a friend (northern raised) of mine and she commented on this very thing. She said in Michigan, they never really discuss the war. They teach it in school, but that’s it. Then she moved down here and they have reenactments, living history events, battle fields, and museums. But she said that she believed it’s because the people in the north didn’t “See” the war. They contributed, but nothing more. And in saying that, I doubt that the war that birthed our nation isn’t important to its people, but maybe the memories are too far off. We’re seeing a lot more Biblical fiction these days though. So who knows, maybe we’ll see a new trend in the future. 🙂 I don’t feel strong enough to be among the writers in this area, but the desire is there. Guess we’ll have to wait and see where God leads. There was a book that I enjoyed from that time period…but it wasn’t based on the war. I found it on goodreads and recommended it to you.

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    1. I’m from Michigan and the civil war is definitely not a hot topic of conversation. I talk about it a lot, but I’m also quite interested in it. So there is probably some truth to that. My husband and I were in Boston 3 years ago on our honeymoon and we check out a ton of R.W. sites, and that area is extremely proud of their history, so you do find it everywhere. So I think it is a lot easier to research that way. Like you, I’ve also kind planned on focusing my writing on what is near to me, or that I can easily imagine. It’s not hard to picture a “made-up” western town when you can turn on Little House, Bonanza, or Dr. Quinn to get a feel for the lifestyle. I did start working on a novel that would be set in a Michigan lumber camp (a bit harder since there are only a handful of museums in the state that I’m aware of), but the resources are a lot closer to me. I figure if I get enough written, my husband and I will have to venture to some of them around the state to help flesh out those details.

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      1. I really want to go to see the founding nation sites!! I bet they are proud and they should be!
        I found the author that was given to me that had written 2 RW novels. They are supposed to be christian and while I read that word somewhere on the page, part of the book descriptions that I was picking up from those that had read it didn’t make it sound much like a christian novel at all. I noticed that his book is supposed to contain a pirate story line. I used to like this type of story, but either haven’t taken the time to read one in a long time, or haven’t found one that caught my attention. How do you feel about a pirate love story? Either way, I noticed that both with him and Rita Gerlach their RW novels also contained a pirates tale. I thought that was interesting and very different from the way I would imagine myself handling the era. But I guess I’m a land lover through and through. lol There are a lot of CW battles that took place over water too and I don’t cotton to them much either. I prefer the land battles myself and that may be due to my limited experience and interest in boating in general. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3123467.A_S_Peterson?from_search=true
        I’m not sure about what the lumber camps were like in Michigan, but here’s a book that adored. I believe it was my first Love Finds You book and remains one of my favorites. They refer to it as a river front saw mill….or something like that. It may be different than a lumber camp, but I found the history and techniques interesting. Pending on the differences, you may pick up some useful info through this one. Plus the story is divine!
        https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6905620-love-finds-you-in-bridal-veil-oregon?ac=1

        Oh and from our author conversation: I’m officially on the 22 people deep waiting list for Tamera’s latest book. 🙂 I will give in to the pink dress after all.

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      2. I actually quite enjoy pirates 🙂 I’m a bit of a water lover. I think there is something intriguing about the life of a pirate. As for the civil war, there was quite a bit of blockade running which would be akin to piracy. But I wouldn’t have associated it much with the RW.

        I’ll check those books out.

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  4. I guess the RW connection comes from fighting a country across the pond. How interesting that you like water and pirate books. I wonder if your location to the water has anything to do with it? I know you’re much closer to water than I am! 🙂

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    1. I’m sure it does. I’ve grown up going to the beach and even now only live about 40 minutes away. So we make it there a few times each summer (plus my husband’s parents are only about 15 min. away) but I would go every day if it was a bit more feasible 🙂

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