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This is the story of Daniel, a violin maker and inmate at Auschwitz concentration camp. For months, Daniel keeps his occupation secret and instead claims to be a carpenter - a more useful profession. When he overhears a musician playing a cracked violin for the camp's commandant, he reveals his skill in order to save the musician from punishment. Soon Daniel finds himself in the middle of a cruel wager between the commandant and the sadistic camp doctor. If Daniel can make a violin of Stradivarius quality, the camp commandant wins a case of the finest burgundy wine. If not, Daniel will be handed over to the camp doctor for use in human experimentation.
Despite the dark theme of this short novel, it carries a message of hope. Amidst so much destruction and cruelty, Daniel manages to create something very beautiful. His friend Bronislov, the musician who plays the violin for the commandant and the camp doctor, sums it up best:
"It isn't true is it, Daniel, that music can tame the beasts? Yet in the end, a song lives."
This novel is very well written, weaving actual Nazi reports from Auschwitz into the narrative. At the end of the story you get to "find out" what happened to the various characters, so there is a nice sense of closure. The narration is also very good - David Colacci's voice is clear and easy to follow, making for no distractions from the story.
If you enjoy stories about the triumph of the human spirit during times of great adversity, you will love this novel. At just under three hours listening time, it asks for very little and delivers a lot.
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