Book review: Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff

I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately.  There is The Huntress (which I’m currently getting through); Horse which I loved (but it’s set in both the Civil War and modern times), The Kitchen Front (another WWII setting) and now Code Name Sapphire.    

Thanks to TLC and Harper-Collins for a promotional copy.  All gushings and rants are my own and were not influenced by the free book I received.

About the book:

Code Name Sapphire
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (February 7, 2023)
Paperback: 368 pages

“A heart-wrenching exploration of the decisions women must make when their loyalties are put to the test in the most unimaginable of circumstances.” –Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of  The Lost Apothecary

A woman must rescue her cousin’s family from a train bound for Auschwitz in this riveting tale of bravery and resistance, from the bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris.

1942. Hannah Martel has narrowly escaped Nazi Germany after her fiancé was killed in a pogrom. When her ship bound for America is turned away at port, she has nowhere to go but to her cousin Lily, who lives with her family in Brussels. Fearful for her life, Hannah is desperate to get out of occupied Europe. But with no safe way to leave, she must return to the dangerous underground work she thought she had left behind.

Seeking help, Hannah joins the Sapphire Line, a secret resistance network led by a mysterious woman named Micheline and her enigmatic brother Matteo. But when a grave mistake causes Lily’s family to be arrested and slated for deportation to Auschwitz, Hannah finds herself torn between her loyalties. How much is Hannah willing to sacrifice to save the people she loves? Inspired by incredible true stories of courage and sacrifice, Code Name Sapphire is a powerful novel about love, family and the unshakable resilience of women in even the hardest of times.

About the author:  

Pam Jenoff is the author of several books of historical fiction, including the NYT bestseller The Orphan’s Tale. She holds a degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her JD from UPenn. Her novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and 3 children near Philadelphia, where she teaches law.

What I thought…

There may be a few spoilers below but I’m doing my best to be vague.

As mentioned above, I was reading this novel (paperback copy) while I was reading The Huntress by Kate Quinn on my Kindle.   I really had to reframe when I picked up one of these books and I often got the plots confused.

Code Name Sapphire had lofty aims.   The subjects of the resistance, safety pipelines and the horrors of the pogram are important to remember and Jenoff does create characters the reader cares about.

Hannah is a survivor but also a heroine (or though we’re lead to believe).   There’s a moral conundrum to the ending of the book that does involve Hannah and the resistance fighters that we’ve also come to respect, Micheline and Matteo.   Jenoff throws in enough plot twists to make their fates even more tragic.

Hannah is forced to make some heavy moral decisions, what is best for her family while balancing the fate of all those she loves and respects.

I found the writing very jerky and sometimes jarringly trite (especially with the dialogue).  This was not noticeable until the last third of the book and during the rescue scene, it was maddingly so.

Recommendation:  If you like historical fiction of WWII, this is worth the read.  (Although, I would recommend The Huntress above this novel.)

The food…

There are a few mentions of food but of course people were just trying to survive.  One food item that stood out to me was Lily promising her son, Georgi, that when their tribulation was over, he could have some lovely strawberry crepes.  I also kept going back to the Sapphire resistance line and all I could think of was a sapphire martini.

Honestly though, the subject matter, setting and ultimate ending left me no appetizing ideas.

So, I’m passing on a recipe tie-in.


Please check out what others on the TLC  tour thought:

Wednesday, February 1st: @mommaleighellensbooknook  

Wednesday, February 1st: @bigskybooks

Monday, February 6th: @notinjersey

Tuesday, February 7th@suzylew_bookreview 

Wednesday, February 8th: @webreakforbooks 

Thursday, February

Friday, February 10th@diveintoagoodbook 

Saturday, February 11th@marensreads

Monday, February 13th@readingthroughnaptime

Wednesday, February 15thHelen’s Book Blog

Wednesday, February

Thursday, February 16th@readingfortheseasons

Friday, February 17th@amy_alwaysreading

Tuesday, February 21st: Eliot’s Eats

Wednesday, February 22nd@nurse_bookie 

Thursday, February 23rd@allthebooksalltheways

Friday, February 24thBooks Cooks Looks

Sunday, February 26th@booksandcoffeemx


1 comment to Book review: Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff

  • mae

    “Horse” was my idea of really good historical fiction! I have been avoiding World War II and Holocaust historical fiction because it’s so often seems fake and full of “lessons” that we should learn from the victims. Your review doesn’t make me want to read this one: what you say about the dialog is so frequently the case in these wannabe best-sellers!

    Thanks for the review… mae at