Annika knows her now-widowed grandmother survived the Holocaust, and knows that she won’t talk about it. But a trip to the Sydney Jewish Museum sets Annika on a course to find out exactly how her grandmother was saved, why her grandmothers photograph is on the wall in the museum and why she won’t talk about or even acknowledge Miklos Nagy, the man who helped rescue her, and hundreds of other Jews, from Hungary. Annika, having resigned her job as an editor, travels to Budapest, searching for clues about Nagy. While she finds titbits of information and a handsome tour guide, Annika discovers that in order to get the full story of Miklos Nagy, she needs to go to Tel Aviv. And in Tel Aviv, she will uncover the secret that has poisoned the lives of three generations past: her grandmother, her mother, and herself. She will also discover her future.
Told alongside Annika’s story is the story of Miklos Nagy himself. He is trying to get as many Hungarian Jews to safety as possible, including his own wife. But in his attempts, he is seen to be working with the Nazis. This fact puts him in the unique position of being considered both a hero and a traitor. Having gone through their own harrowing experiences after being ‘saved’, some of the people he saved think that they’ve been betrayed by Nagy. But were there behind-the-scenes meetings and moments that occurred that could change the way Nagy is viewed? And how should Nagy be remembered by history? This is what Annika wants to find out.
The Collaborator is a stunning blend of the past, the present and the promise of the future. Annika’s determination to find out both the story of her grandmother and that of Miklos Nagy is inspiring. The alternating perspectives of the chapters, from telling Annika’s story to telling Miklos’ story engage you in a way that transports you instantly to each place. You almost don’t want an Annika chapter to end, because you’re so involved with that one time and place. But as soon as you start a Miklos chapter, you never want that one to end!
Diane Armstrong seamlessly intertwines these beautiful and heart-wrenching stories. We’re witness to heartbreak and trials, but also love and heroism, in the face of bleak odds. The characters leap off the page and act their parts through your imagination. Armstrong’s talent for writing rich historical fiction has yet again proved itself. The Collaborator is evocative and moving; a fantastically written gem that you won’t want to put down!
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