What’s the worst thing you would do in order to survive? Would you take the life of another if it saved not only your own, but also the life of your child?
Germany, 1945. Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja have travelled miles to seek refuge at the Graufled Displaced Persons camp. Though the conditions are cramped, dirty, and dangerous, Klara and Alicja – along with 3,200 others – are the lucky ones. They have survived the war, and now they will do anything to find their way back home, to start their lives anew.
But all hope of a peaceful future collapses when Klara recognises a man in the camp from her past. He knows what she did during the war to save her daughter, and Klara knows his secret, too – an identity that he has concealed in order to survive. Each person knows a deep, dark secret about the other, one that could destroy their new, post-war lives.
Will they both keep quiet? And if they do, what is the price of silence? How much trust can you place in another person who in an instant, can destroy your life? ‘Directly I saw him, I knew he had to die.’
The Survivors by Kate Furnivall is an epic and unforgettable tale of human endurance. Set against the shadow of a long and horrific war, the book explores not only the innate human capacity for greed and destruction, but also people’s astounding ability to recover and persevere in times of extreme hardship.
Furnivall’s use of language is stunning, as is the power of her storytelling to completely transport you to another time and place. I was reading The Survivors on a balmy Spring day, but with her chillingly realistic description of a concentration camp, found myself cold and shivering, reaching for a blanket.
Not only does Kate’s writing impact your senses, it also takes you on an emotional roller-coaster involving fear, rage, relief, terror, inspiration and ultimately, a golden ray of hope.
The book boasts an impressive host of strong, female characters, especially Klara and Alicja, who despite enduring unthinkable atrocities, continue to fight for their lives. Klara is a woman full of fire – brave and fierce with a quick mind and sharp tongue. The mother-daughter bond is a force unto itself, extraordinarily powerful, yet another testament to Kate’s skill at injecting empathy and emotion into her writing without ever sliding into sentimentality.
The Survivors is a superb piece of historical fiction, particularly refreshing for its focus on the aftermath of war and its implications rather than the war itself. The result is a less political and more emotional story, reminding us of the remarkable strength and resilience of those who endured this dark period of history.
And of the preciousness of peace.
About The Author:
Kate Furnivall didn’t set out to be a writer. It sort of grabbed her by the throat when she discovered the story of her grandmother – a White Russian refugee who fled from the Bolsheviks down into China. That extraordinary tale inspired her first book, The Russian Concubine. From then on, she was hooked.
Kate is the author of eight novels, including The Russian Concubine, The White Pearl and The Italian Wife. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.