Category Archives: The Last Train to London

Review: The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

Title: The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna’s streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan’s best friend and companion is the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis’ take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler’s annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.


Taking place in pre-World War II Vienna, The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton is a poignant novel that highlights the little remembered Kindertransport.

This interesting novel is based on the real life story of  Dutch resistance member, Truus “Tante Truus” Wijsmuller, who arranged transport of mostly Jewish children during the Nazi rise to power. Truus selflessly endangers herself time and again as she tries to move as many children to safety as she can.  Right before the start of World War II, Truus strikes a deal with Adolf Eichmann to transport 600 Jewish children in one weeks time. Although a seemingly impossible task, Truus and British volunteers work tirelessly to successfully gather and arrange transport for these children.

Beginning in 1936, the story also follows  a series of fictional characters. Stephan Neuman, son of a wealthy Jewish business owner. He is friends with Žofie-Helene, a Christian teenager whose father died under mysterious circumstances. Her mother Käthe is a journalist whose anti-Nazi articles endanger herself and her family. Stephan’s life takes a tragic turn as the Nazis begin targeting Jewish business owners and the family business is turned over to his Christian uncle. While this first half of the novel offers an insightful look into the Nazi rise to power and implementation of anti-Semite policies, the pacing is extremely slow.

The Last Train to London is a thought-provoking novel that is well-researched and educational.  Truus  “Tante Truus” Wijsmuller is an incredible woman who risked her life in order to save as many children as possible. Thank you, Meg Waite Clayton, for telling this courageous woman’s story.

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