My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a very first book that I read by Barbara Ridley. This is a historical fiction, based on a true story. I like the fact that events are set in the chronological order
The story starts in 1938. Lena, a young Jewish girl, who falls for Otto, German-born and now Spanish spy. At the beginning of the war, he is able to get Lena out of Chekoslovakia to France and later with a help of his friends to England. Lena is heartbroken to leave her family behind. Often she blames her father for not trying to move Mama and Sasha to safety on time.
While living in English suburbs, Lena feels attraction to Milton, son of the lady of the Manor. However she is dedicated to Otto and when he is arrested for simply being German – Lena marries him to get him out of jail. After moving to London, Lena and Otto find different interests, he is stuck in the past, angry that people no longer interested in his political views. Lena, on the other hand, is eager to move forward, learn the language and new skills. She still hopes that one day she will be reunited with her Mama and Sasha. Lena is estranged from her father, who is retired from Czech army located in England, however, she keeps contact with her younger brother.
As years go by, Lena realizes she no longer wants to be married to Otto. During one of the political gatherings, Lena and Otto reconnect with Milton, their mutual friend. Milton invites them to come back to suburbs and visit his mother. Lena accepts an invitation alone and takes it as a break from Otto. After her return, Lena accepts the fact that her marriage to Otto is over, she moves out, starts an affair with Milton, that will end in their marriage.
And at last the war is over. Lena receives the devastating news that her Mama and little sister were sent to concentration camp. The news completely crashes her heart and Lena forsware anything that ties her back to the country she was born and grew up in. She has minimum contact with her father and brother ever since. She marries Milton and they have 2 beautiful children together. They live a happy and calm life after the war. However, the loss of her mother and sister forever engraved on her heart.
This is not just another WW2 novel. This is a story of young girl’s courage and stubbornness to survive. Many times thru the novel I picked up a phone and called my mom just to tell her I love her. I feel the pain Lena experience for not knowing what had happened to her beloved mother and little sister. And afterward her reaction to the news and the fact that she wanted to longer have anything associated with her motherland.