Three Sisters is a remarkable novel based on the true story of three Slovakian Jewish sisters, who endured the worst of humanity to forge new and hopeful lives on the other side.
Heather Morris, author of international bestsellers The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey, has penned an astonishing new story, in a similar vein to the first two. It will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive in a place without hope.
When they are little girls, Cibi, Magda, and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what. Years later, at just fifteen, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only nineteen herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her. Together, they fight to survive through unimaginable cruelty and hardship.
Magda, aged seventeen, stays with her mother and grandfather, hiding out in a neighbour’s attic or in the forest when the Nazi militia comes to round up friends, neighbours, and family. She escapes for a time, but eventually she too is captured and transported to the death camp.
In Auschwitz-Birkenau the three sisters are reunited and, remembering their father, they make a new promise, this time to each other: that they will survive.
New Zealand author Heather Morris’ 2018 novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz achieved global success, selling over eight million copies worldwide. She followed it with Cilka’s Journey and now returns with Three Sisters. It is based on the real-life story of three Holocaust survivors, Cibi, Magda, and Livia Meller. Astonishingly, when reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the sisters’ family realised they knew the central figures Lale and Gita. They contacted Morris, setting the wheels in motion for their own family story to be told. Readers may recognise the tattooist of Auschwitz himself, Lale, and Gita, who make brief appearances in Three Sisters. However, you don’t have to have read Morris’ previous novels to fully experience this one.
Three Sisters covers many years of the sisters’ lives, from their childhood in Slovakia to the years they survived the shocking conditions within Auschwitz. Their story of survival is truly remarkable, as so many perished around them. Their migration to Israel after they emerge from the destruction of post-war Europe is also fascinating. Morris explores their complex trauma and survivor’s guilt in a delicate manner. An afterword from some family members, including from one of the sisters herself, alongside historical photos and documents, reinforces this deeply personal story. It is also a stark reminder that the three sisters are among millions of victims of the Holocaust – most of whom did not survive – and all their stories deserve to be told.
Both fans of Morris and those new to her writing will enjoy Three Sisters. Readers interested in historical fiction, especially set during WWII, should put this at the top of their TBR piles, it’s a powerful and breathtaking story.