She looked at the empty cradle where her baby had been. Her heart felt tattered and empty, like the hollow streets of Berlin after its people began to live in fear.
Berlin, 1934. Homes once filled with laughter stand empty as the Nazi party’s grip on the city tightens. When AnnaTiegel’s beautiful best friend catches Reich Minister Goebbels’ special attention, an impulsive act to save her brings Anna under his unforgiving scrutiny. First, she loses her job, then slowly, mercilessly, she finds her life stripped away. After her father is killed by the Nazis, Anna’s final hope is to escape to America with her boyfriend Eddy, but when she reaches his apartment on the agreed date, she finds it deserted. Alone and pregnant, the future feels terrifying, but she must try to protect the life inside her.
Rhode Island, 1957. Peggy Bailey stares in shock at the faded photograph of two laughing women which her beloved adoptive mother struggled to pass on to her before she died, whispering ‘It was inside your baby blanket when we brought you home’. As Peggy continues to stare, she realises that she has seen one of the girls before, in the most unlikely of places… Bursting at the realisation, she embarks on a mission which takes her across America to find the truth behind her heritage. Nothing, however, could prepare her for the tragic story her actions uncover…
A poignant and beautiful World War Two story about survival and a mother’s enduring search for her child against all the odds. A heart-breaking read for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, We Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5
As a lover of historical fiction I was very excited to start this book. The prologue to this book starts in New York in 1935 where we are introduced to Anna, a woman who is filled with pain and longing for the baby she so desperately wants back in her arms. She appears to be full of fear and apprehension, which intrigued me and had me pondering what had caused her so much distress.
We then jump forward to Rhode Island in 1957 where we meet Peggy. Her adoptive mother has just passed away, and she finds herself in one of the most difficult points in her life as she is left with many unanswered questions and unspoken words. Peggy had been her mothers carer for the last few months of her life, so when her mother passes away, Peggy finds herself feeling lost, alone and full of an unbearable pain.
On her deathbed, Peggy’s mother left her a photograph of her biological mother. The picture shows two young women in a hoppegarten in Germany. Peggy is filled with fear that Germany will have a deep claim on her, and she is filled with uncertainty as to what this could possibly mean. Peggy finds herself torn, unsure of what to do for the best. When she becomes aware of the fact that one of the women in the photograph is actress Louise Baker, Peggy quickly comes to the decision to track her down. She begins a journey across America, heading for Los Angeles, hoping that she will get the answers she so desperately needs from this city.
This story was truly fascinating and captivated me from the start. The story had so much detail and was so incredibly informative, and I must say I learnt a lot about the American Bundt and the support that Nazism had throughout the 1930’s. The authors writing style was wonderful, and really brought the story to life in my mind. I could picture the setting, and the intensity of the situations the characters found themselves in throughout this story.
A heart breaking story which took me through a rollercoaster of emotions. I loved it.
* Thank you to Sarah Hardy, Bookouture and Catherine Hokin for providing me with an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.*
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Catherine Hokin is the author of two World War Two inspired novels set in Berlin, her favourite city. Following a History degree at Manchester University she worked in teaching, marketing and politics, while waiting for a chance to do what she really wanted which was to write full time. Her short stories have been published by iScot, Writers Forum and Myslexia magazines and she was the winner of the 2019 Fiction 500 Short Story Competition. She is a lover of strong female leads and a quest.
Catherine now lives in Glasgow with her American husband. She has two grown-up children – one of whom lives, very conveniently, in Berlin – and a life long addiction to very loud music.