Historical fiction a fascinating read
The Huntress By Kate Quinn, Harper Collins, $35
Kate Quinn is a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction. She has been a lifelong history buff and has written seven historical fiction novels, all of which have been translated into multiple languages. The Huntress, her latest, has been written in three stories.
The first sets the scene, 18-year-old Jordan has a long widowed father who runs an antique shop in Boston. He falls in love and marries a war refugee from Austria whom he met selling her jewellery to make ends meet. Jordan, an ardent photographer, feels there is something not quite right although she falls in love with Anneleise’s 5-year-old daughter Ruth who seems very shy and almost withdrawn.
The second story features Tony and Ian, a journalist and an ex soldier intent on tracking war criminals, the Huntress, in particular is driven by a personal interest. The Nuremberg trials are over, the money is running out and there is a general feeling that the world should put the past behind us and move on, but for Ian and Tony hunting down the Huntress is a mission they are not prepared to abandon.
Then enter Nina, an ex Russian bomber pilot stranded in Poland who escaped the Huntress only by managing to inflict a wound to her neck. She can identify her.
The Huntress is well written. It does go backwards and forward with the three stories. I prefer a straight story, but perhaps a writing technique to give the reader more information. The Huntress is fiction based on fact, a story about the tracking of the lesser known war criminals. Quinn bases the Huntress herself on a composite of a brutal Nazi prison guard and the wife of an SS officer who found six Jewish refugee children hiding near her home in the Ukraine. She took them inside, fed them, then took them outside and shot them.
I found the author’s notes, all 12 pages, even better than the book. There was no fiction there. She has researched this novel thoroughly.
I am hoping she could write a non fiction story about the Russian women pilots who flew the bomber planes supposedly made from plywood against the Nazi advance in the Ukraine. I found Nina’s story fascinating.