In the gentle tone of a fable, Jean-Claude Grumberg’s The Most Precious of Cargoes tells the moving story of a woman who wanted a child, and a child who needed a home.
Once upon a time in an enormous forest, there lived a poor woodcutter and his wife.
Around them a war wages, and hunger is a constant companion. Yet every night, the woodcutter’s wife prays for a child.
A Jewish father rides on a train holding twin babies. His wife no longer has enough milk to feed both children. In hopes of saving them both, he wraps his daughter in a shawl and throws her into the forest.
While foraging for food, the woodcutter’s wife finds a bundle, a baby girl wrapped in a shawl. She knows that this little girl will be hunted, but she cannot ignore this gift: she will accept the precious cargo, and raise her as her own.
Set against the horrors of the Holocaust and told with a fairytale-like lyricism, The Most Precious of Cargoes is a fable about family and redemption which reminds us that humanity can be found in the most inhumane of places.