The Rainbow by Carly Schabowski

Thank you to Sarah Hardy for the invitation to join the Bookouture blog tour for this book and thank you Bookouture for a digital copy via NetGalley to read and review. This is the third book I’ve read, enjoyed and reviewed by Carly Schabowski over the past year (please see my other reviews at and )


There, on the dusty floorboards, was a piece of paper, folded neatly. A newspaper article from 1941, written in German, alongside a faded picture of two men in Nazi uniforms staring at the camera. I was about to place it back in the box of forgotten things when something in the text jumped out at me. My breath caught in my chest. I know that name.

London, present day. Isla has grown up hearing her beloved grandad’s stories about his life as a child in pre-war Poland and as a young soldier bravely fighting the Germans to protect his people. So she is shocked and heartbroken to find, while collecting photos for his 95th birthday celebration, a picture of her dear grandfather wearing a Nazi uniform. Is everything she thought she knew about him a lie?

Unable to question him due to his advanced dementia, Isla wraps herself in her rainbow-coloured scarf, a memento of his from the war, and begins to hunt for the truth behind the photograph. What she uncovers is more shocking than she could have ever anticipated – a tale of childhood sweethearts torn apart by family duty, and how one young man risked his life, his love and the respect of his own people, to secretly fight for justice from inside the heart of the enemy itself…

An heartbreaking novel of love, betrayal and a secret passed down through a familyInspired by an incredible true story. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzWe Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.

Please check out the other reviews too.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this story about Isla and her Polish family. Despite having read a large number of books set during World War 2, I wasn’t aware that the German Army had forcibly conscripted young Polish men to fight alongside them.

This story looks at how the German occupation of Poland treated the Polish people. The young men of Poland who hadn’t originally been part of the Polish Army were given stark choices, join the German Army or see your loved ones being killed.

Isla cannot hear the stories about her grandfather directly from him, as his dementia means that he is starting to forget them. However Isla turns detective, travelling to Poland to find long lost relatives and to hear the story behind the rainbow scarf. She uncovers a much bigger story than she could have imagined and I urge you to read the story to discover it too.

Carly spins a story full of heartbreak and magic, of tragedy and new beginnings. Her writing brings the wartime era to life, creating characters to care deeply about and makes you question how human beings could treat others so badly.

A beautifully written book reminding us about how ordinary people fought back in many different ways during the Second World War. Happy to recommend this book and the previous stand alone books too.

Author Bio:

Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students.

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By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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