The good people at Over the River PR sent me a copy of this lengthy and engaging WWII novel, by the author of The Murmur of Bees. Sofía Segovia has a beautiful way of writing and the first half of this story captures the characters thoughts and personalities so we really feel like we know them. Set in Prussia in WWII it follows two families as they deal with war and loss. It is heart-breaking in parts. I have to say that I read all the time about WWII, but usually from the viewpoint of the victors. This was an unforgettable look at two families’ experience – based on true events.
Here’s the overview:
From the bestselling author of The Murmur of Bees comes a transportive novel of two families uprooted by war and united by the bonds of love and courage.
With war looming dangerously close, Ilse’s school days soon turn to lessons of survival. In the harshness of winter, her family must join the largest exodus in human history to survive. As battle lines are drawn and East Prussia’s borders vanish beneath them, they leave their farm and all they know behind for an uncertain future.
But Ilse also has Janusz, her family’s young Polish laborer, by her side. As they flee from the Soviet army, his enchanting folktales keep her mind off the cold, the hunger, and the horrors unfolding around them. He tells her of a besieged kingdom in the Baltic Sea from which spill the amber tears of a heartbroken queen.
Neither of them realizes his stories will prove crucial and prophetic.
Not far away, trying and failing to flee from a vengeful army, Arno and his mother hide in the ruins of a Königsberg mansion, hoping that once the war ends they can reunite their dispersed family. But their stay in the walled city proves untenable when they find themselves dodging bombs and scavenging in the rubble. Soon they’ll become pawns caught between two powerful enemies, on a journey with an unknown destination.
Hope carries these children caught in the crosshairs of war on an extraordinary pilgrimage in which the gift of an amber teardrop is at once a valuable form of currency and a symbol of resilience, one that draws them together against insurmountable odds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR and TRANSLATOR:
Sofía Segovia was born in Monterrey, Mexico. She studied communications at Universidad de Monterrey, mistakenly thinking that she would be a journalist. But fiction is her first love. A creative writing teacher, she has also been a ghostwriter and communications director for local political campaigns and has written several plays for local theater. The Spanish edition of her bestselling El murmullo de las abejas (The Murmur of Bees) was an Audie Award winner and named Novel of the Year by iTunes. This English translation by Simon Bruni, narrated by Xe Sands and Angelo Di Loreto, was one of Audible’s Top 10 of 2019 and a Voice Arts Award winner. Segovia is also the author of Peregrinos (TEARS OF AMBER), Noche de huracán (Night of the Hurricane), and Huracán (Hurricane). Sofía likes to travel the world, but she loves coming home to her husband, three children, two dogs, and cat. She writes her best surrounded and inspired by their joyous chaos. For more information visit www.sofiasegovia.com.
Simon Bruni translates literary works from Spanish, a language he acquired through total immersion living in Alicante, Valencia, and Santander. He studied Spanish and linguistics at Queen Mary University of London and literary translation at the University of Exeter. Simon’s many published translations include novels, short stories, video games, and nonfiction publications, and he is the winner of three John Dryden translation awards: in 2017 and 2015 for Paul Pen’s short stories “Cinnamon” and “The Porcelain Boy” and in 2011 for Francisco Pérez Gandul’s novel Cell 211. His translations of Paul Pen’s The Light of the Fireflies and Sofía Segovia’s The Murmur of Bees have both become international bestsellers. For more information visit www.simonbruni.com.