The Love That I Have by James Moloney is a heart-wrenching story about love and fear and tragedy. The story is about Margot Baumann, a German girl who works in the mailroom of a konzentrationsalger – the German word for concentration camp. When told to burn letters written by prisoners of the camp, Margot is horrified. The letters she receives from her brothers in the war mean everything to her, and to destroy letters meant for other people – it seems far too cruel. Despite Margot’s love and dedication to the Führer – meaning Adolf Hitler, Margot disobeys a direct order and saves a few of the letters.
While reading these letters before reposting them, Margot finds a beautiful love letter written by Dieter Kleinshmidt. Furthermore, the letter is addressed to another Margot. The letter was so beautiful and so passionate that Margot became infatuated by Dieter. She collected each letter he sent, although was unable to repost them due to the lack of prisoner number given – necessary as Margot Lipsky, the other Margot, was a prisoner of Auschwitz.
Finally, unable to bear the pain in the letters any longer, including the pain that they were not returned, Margot writes back, pretending to be Margot Lipsky. In the ensuing letters, Margot falls in love with Dieter, not just at Margot Lipsky, but as Margot Baumann. Yet she yearns for something the letters cannot give her – physical comfort, a loving embrace.
The novel The Love That I Have is just as beautiful and as painful as Dieters letters, and undoubtedly written with equal, if not more, passion. Moloney writes with the elegance and grace that so few war-novels encapsulate, such that you will not be able to put this book down. While about both love and war, the most prominent feature of this book to me was Margot’s character development. While Margot started as innocent, to the extent that she believed anything she was told, throughout the novel she became independent and brave, though no less loving. She took risks she thought she’d never take, from her first act of rebellion, saving the letters, to … well, anything else would be a spoiler, but the risks significantly increased, as did the stakes.
Full of twists and turns, of secrets and lies, this book is unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Romance, tragedy, action and adventure this The Love That I Have has it all, and will leave you wanting more.