The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

** My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy, received via Netgalley **


Author : Heather Morris
Title : The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Pages : 288
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : January 11, 2018


I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.

So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov. In April 1942, Lale finds himself on a train being transported from his hometown in Slovakia because the Germans needed men to work for them. Lale wasn’t supposed to be on this train. His older brother should have been. But Lale sacrificed himself as his brother was married and had children.

What Lale doesn’t know, is that his final destination will be the concentration camp of Auschwitz. It’s incredibly confronting to think of Lale in his suit and tie, completely oblivious, while the reader knows perfectly well where he’s heading. But even when Lale arrives at his destination, he holds his head up high, is kind, positive and determined to survive. Especially when he meets Gita, the love of his life. Lale meets Gita in his job as the tattooist of Auschwitz. He’s the person who inks his fellow Jews with the number on their arm by which they will be known from then on.

There are many stories out there about life in the concentration camps, some of which will never be told. Lale deserves the utmost admiration for telling his story, a harrowing and haunting tale of cruelty and inhumanity, a part of history that should never be forgotten. Lale sees opportunities everywhere and does what is necessary to survive. As the tattooist, Lale “enjoyed” a privileged position, able to get away with a bit more than his fellow prisoners did. But it’s also here where I had some issues with the novel as some events seemed a tad too far-fetched, or even impossible, for me.

It’s really rather incredible to think that amidst all this horror, a beautiful love story blossoms. A love that will endure all the vile things that’s thrown at it. Despite everything, Lale continues to give Gita hope, determined that they will both survive and live a long and happy life together. It’s moving and at times quite emotional but also full of hope, uplifting and inspirational.

But for me, the writing lets this book down. It all felt rather matter-of-fact to me, lacking sympathy and I feel Lale and Gita’s story deserved so much more.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is available for purchase.

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  26 comments for “The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

  1. January 15, 2018 at 10:59 am

    This is so interesting. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. January 15, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Great review! It’s amazing story and I think it would make a great film!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 15, 2018 at 11:27 am

    You make a v interesting point about the writing style Eva. How much did it impact your view?

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Quite a bit, I think. It’s obviously always going to be an emotional story because we all know how horrifying that era was but to me it felt as if the author was just listing a bunch of facts and the empathy had to come from the reader. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well but I know what I mean.


      • January 17, 2018 at 10:14 am

        No I totally understand what you mean E. It’s a book I will def read sometime as it’s an era I’m fascinated with!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. January 15, 2018 at 11:54 am

    I guess we didn’t experience this novel the same way. I didn’t have any problems with the writing and I was actually quite happy it wasn’t too heavy and sombre. It’s difficult to review such a novel but you did so brilliantly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 15, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      I know. I’m very obviously in the minority. But I’ve read and watched quite a lot of WWII stuff over the years (OH is obsessed with this era) and this just didn’t quite have the impact on me that I expected it to have.


      • January 15, 2018 at 1:46 pm

        I think this is a really interesting point. I haven’t read much on this subject, but get that as you have more knowledge on a subject it alters your opinion. A great review, as it does show your honest opinion xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 17, 2018 at 10:06 am

          Thank you! It was quite hard to write as it feels somehow a bit wrong to “put down” a story like this.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Holly B / Dressedtoread
    January 15, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Nice review Eva! Haven’t read it yet because I was afraid it would just be too sad, but maybe the inspirational part gives me hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Quiet Knitter
    January 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Interesting point about the writing style Eva, I’ve seen another reader comment on it too so I’d be intrigued to see how it reads. Have got this one on my radar x

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Oh, wonderful! I’m so glad it’s not just me. I felt quite bad with my lower rating amongst all the glowing 5 star ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Quiet Knitter
        January 17, 2018 at 10:11 am

        You can’t help how a book makes you think/feel Eva. One of the best things about your reviews is that you are honest xx

        Liked by 1 person

  7. January 15, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Great review! With this type of story I think the writing has to really evoke a lot of emotion in the reader, sorry it didn’t quite work for you

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:08 am

      Yes, I agree. And to me it felt like I was doing all the hard work myself, if that makes sense? It’s always going to be an emotional story because we know about the era but it shouldn’t be up to me to try and evoke those emotions by myself. Still not explaining it well, I don’t think.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Susie | Novel Visits
    January 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I tend to like WWII stories, but having read so many my standards are high. I think this is one for me to skip. Thanks for your honest review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Thank you. Tough one to write but yes, I do think, like yourself, my standards are quite high and this just didn’t live up to those for me.


  9. January 15, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    This sounds like a heart breaker Eva but i’m very interested! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. January 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Love your point about the writing, it’s such a shame, the story sounds amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. January 15, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    This sounds really interesting even if the writing didn’t quite work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yvo
    January 17, 2018 at 1:31 am

    Great review! I definitely see your point when it comes to the writing… It was one of the reasons I didn’t give this one a full 5 stars either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:10 am

      This makes me feel so much better! I think it said in the notes somewhere that this was originally a screenplay? It showed, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yvo
        January 18, 2018 at 3:04 am

        Ah I had completely forgotten about that! You’re right, it does show.


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