The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - By Kate Fur­ni­vall, Si­mon & Schus­ter

our pick of the lat­est books and a Great Read from Kate Fur­ni­vall

What price sur­vival? This is the mo­ral dilemma at the heart of Kate Fur­ni­vall’s shock­ing and in­tensely grip­ping win­dow on post World War II Ger­many and it’s one that stays with you long af­ter the fi­nal page. Pol­ish refugee and ballsy re­sis­tance fighter Klara Janowska and her daugh­ter, 10­year­old Alicja, have ducked and dived and fought hard for their lives to fi­nally reach Grau­field Dis­placed Per­sons camp in Ger­many. How they man­aged to sur­vive the war is the “who­dun­nit” at the cen­tre of Kate Fur­ni­vall’s com­pelling story – that and how they will man­age to sur­vive and es­cape the new ter­rors of the camp, where dan­ger lurks around ev­ery corner, fu­elled by the des­per­a­tion of bro­ken hu­man­ity. With the war over it is time to put the world back to­gether, but is that pos­si­ble when pain, ha­tred and mis­trust still rule?

The plot clev­erly plays with the reader’s sense of truth and lies as we search for the souls of our pro­tag­o­nists un­der­neath their com­plex web of sub­terfuge. In the camp where 3200 peo­ple barely ex­ist, Klara recog­nises a man who can de­stroy her and so a cat and mouse game be­gins. This Nazi has brazenly taken her brother’s name as his and seems to have fooled the au­thor­i­ties. But as the truth about their past to­gether un­folds, it’s clear that Klara must kill this man if she and her daugh­ter are ever to be free.

Kate Fur­ni­vall was in­spired to write The Sur­vivors by news pic­tures of “ter­ri­fied Syr­ian refugees cling­ing to a cap­sized boat in rough seas off the coast of Italy. The image of a fa­ther on a beach hold­ing his drowned daugh­ter in his arms still haunts me,” she says. “The ques­tion of how we, as a civilised so­ci­ety, deal with the im­mense prob­lem of in­ter­na­tional refugees is one that we all have to face. It was this that drove me to dig deeper.”

While the novel is fic­tion, the de­tails of the chaos in Europe fol­low­ing the war were re­searched metic­u­lously by Kate. “I spent hours scour­ing old pho­to­graphs of the post­war era in Ger­many, see­ing the cities re­duced to rub­ble or a ragged child clutch­ing a knob of bread for grim death, or faces lit from within by a grim de­ter­mi­na­tion to sur­vive. The at­mos­phere they cre­ated for me was very vivid and in­tense.” The re­sult is ut­terly page­turn­ing and thrillingly plot­ted, but it’s also an im­por­tant study of what hu­mankind can and did do.

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