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The Last Checkmate: A Novel by Gabriella…
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The Last Checkmate: A Novel (edition 2021)

by Gabriella Saab (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7510315,015 (4.21)1
A PopSugar Best Book of the Year! Readers of Heather Morris's The Tattooist of Auschwitz and watchers of The Queen's Gambit won't want to miss this amazing debut set during World War II. A young Polish resistance worker, imprisoned in Auschwitz as a political prisoner, plays chess in exchange for her life, and in doing so fights to bring the man who destroyed her family to justice. Maria Florkowska is many things: daughter, avid chess player, and, as a member of the Polish underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, a young woman brave beyond her years. Captured by the Gestapo, she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, but while her family is sent to their deaths, she is spared. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Karl Fritzsch, decides to use her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of exploiting her skills, he has every intention of killing her. Befriended by a Catholic priest, Maria attempts to overcome her grief, vows to avenge the murder of her family, and plays for her life. For four grueling years, her strategy is simple: Live. Fight. Survive. By cleverly provoking Fritzsch's volatile nature in front of his superiors, Maria intends to orchestrate his downfall. Only then will she have a chance to evade the fate awaiting her and see him punished for his wickedness. As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch--and her past--one last time. … (more)
Member:Maret-G
Title:The Last Checkmate: A Novel
Authors:Gabriella Saab (Author)
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2021), 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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The Last Checkmate: A Novel by Gabrielle Saab

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Book Review…The Last Checkmate by Gabriella Saab

Captured by the Gestapo, she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, but while her family is sent to their deaths, she is spared. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Karl Fritzsch, decides to use her to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of her, he has every intention of killing her.

Maria vows to avenge the murder of her family, and orchestrate Fritzsch’s downfall. As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch and her past one last time.

The Last Checkmate is a beautifully written story with an inspiring main character and filled with courage and hope. There were some parts that were hard to read but I don't think there will be many people who read this book and not be filled with admiration for Maria! She is a strong and beautiful character to follow! I liked how the author weaved chess throughout the book. It was a unique twist! The story I'd fast paced and came together nicely. The writing is wonderful! As a reader you feel like you are there with Maria and can hear her thoughts loud and clear! If you're looking for an emotional read with some wonderful characters you'll enjoy this one!
( )
  thepageladies | Oct 2, 2022 |
Maria is a member of the underground resistance within Warsaw when she’s arrested. She and her family are sent to Auschwitz and everyone in her immediate family are killed. She’s spared for some reason and she’s determined to find out why. The camp director, Karl Fritzsch, uses her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. She spends her days fighting for her survival as she continues to play chess. Her motto is simple - Live. Fight. Survive. This story is unlike any other WWII story I’ve read. I couldn’t put it down, a knot in my stomach until the very end. Highly recommend this book! ( )
  dabutkus | Sep 4, 2022 |
The story of a young polish woman part of the resistance during works war two. She is imprisoned at Auschwitz. Her family is killed and she struggles to cope with camp conditions. ( )
  waldhaus1 | Aug 9, 2022 |
Much love for this book! A different view on the atrocities of the Nazi’s and the resilience, strength and fortitude of the people caught up in a madman’s diabolical scheme. Told from a 14-18 year old Polish Catholic girl point of view. Maria is living the horrors of her Jewish neighbors plight. She and her family are resistance workers, working undercover to save the young children of the Jewish people being sent to the concentration camps. She is caught, beaten and she and her family are brutally punished as political prisoners. This story revolves around what the prisoners need to do to survive, for Maria it’s to play chess with the worst of her captors.

The will to survive is strong, people will do whatever the need to do to survive, and under these circumstances, no one will judge. Friendship, family, love, resilience, memories are at the forefront of this beautifully written book. A complex game that was passed on from father to daughter with love and served to keep Maria mentally strong in dealing with the horrors. The friendships that evolved, especially between Maria and Fr. Maximilian Kolbe (a favorite saint of mine, and ironically the Paton of my church and school) gave a fictional light to a historical figure. The bond of friendship between Maria, Hania and Irena was beautiful to watch enfold. Beautifully written, heartbreakingly sad, and so well researched, truly a work of love. Make sure you read the Author’s Note! I leaned so much from this book. I found it compelling and hard to put down. I look forward to reading this author again.

Thanks to Ms. Saab, William Morrow/Custom House and NetGalley for this ARC. Opinion is mine alone. ( )
  LoriKBoyd | Nov 28, 2021 |
I am definitely going against the trend with this review of "The Last Checkmate", and I don't like being too negative about novels set in Auschwitz, but this one did not ring true. There were too many contrivances and I felt I was just reading a fictional story instead of events that were horrifically real. Despite the cruelties and deprivations Maria had to endure during her four years in Auschwitz, the sense of desperation and dread was missing. Nor did I bond with Maria as a character. She often annoyed me with her 'plans' and instead of being totally invested in her survival, I found it easy to but the novel down at the end of a chapter. I never had the urge to read 'just one more'.

However, on a positive note, I did like the friendship that developed between Maria, Irene and Hania. The three women showed tremendous courage and their bond gave them a reason to stay alive.

My favourite character was definitely Father Kolby, who, I discovered later when reading the Author's Notes, was an actual person and was canonised for his work before the war and during his time in Auschwitz. He was truly a remarkable man.

"The Last Checkmate" wasn't a bad book but I do think it lacked the atmosphere and emotional depth that I expect in these novels. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially those set during World War II, but this one never fully won me over, hence the 3 star rating. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Nov 20, 2021 |
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A PopSugar Best Book of the Year! Readers of Heather Morris's The Tattooist of Auschwitz and watchers of The Queen's Gambit won't want to miss this amazing debut set during World War II. A young Polish resistance worker, imprisoned in Auschwitz as a political prisoner, plays chess in exchange for her life, and in doing so fights to bring the man who destroyed her family to justice. Maria Florkowska is many things: daughter, avid chess player, and, as a member of the Polish underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, a young woman brave beyond her years. Captured by the Gestapo, she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, but while her family is sent to their deaths, she is spared. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Karl Fritzsch, decides to use her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of exploiting her skills, he has every intention of killing her. Befriended by a Catholic priest, Maria attempts to overcome her grief, vows to avenge the murder of her family, and plays for her life. For four grueling years, her strategy is simple: Live. Fight. Survive. By cleverly provoking Fritzsch's volatile nature in front of his superiors, Maria intends to orchestrate his downfall. Only then will she have a chance to evade the fate awaiting her and see him punished for his wickedness. As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch--and her past--one last time. 

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