Poppies, a Symbol of Bloody Wartime Sacrifice. Are there ever winners? Is anyone innocent?
Families torn apart by the Great War. When war is declared in August 1914, Bill, a farm boy brought up in a village on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Northamptonshire estate, is plucking up his courage to ask his sweetheart, Florrie, to marry him. Florrie has given up her dream of being a dancer to bring up her siblings and protect them from their violent and abusive widowed father. For her, marriage to Bill is love, escape, and protection: a dream to be clung to.
But Bill and Florrie’s dreams are dashed – Bill is sent with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars, a yeomanry cavalry regiment, to fight in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Palestine taking with him a horse, Copper, volunteered for service by the 7th Duke’s young daughter, Lady Alice. Bill makes promises before he leaves: to marry Florrie if he survives and to bring his beloved warhorse home safe to Lady Alice.
While Bill fights Turks and Germans in appalling conditions, Florrie, a strong female, fights her own war with rationing, poverty, the loss of her menfolk, and her father’s drunken temper. As WW1 proceeds, fearful and with her resilience faltering, her feelings of self-worth plummet, and she turns to her dandelion clocks for reassurance. ‘He lives? He lives not? He loves me? He loves me not?’
When Bill returns to England six months after the armistice in November 1918, both he and Florrie have been changed by their personal journeys. Has their love survived their wartime romances, five years apart, and the tragedies they’ve endured? Can Bill keep his promises to Florrie and Lady Alice?
A heartbreaking story of lovers torn apart by the Great War. An insight into the military history of the 1914 1918 war as fought by the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars and the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Yeomanry – some of the ‘PALS brigades’. At first thought, ‘not real soldiers’ by the regular army, the Royal Bucks and the Worcester Yeomanry fought with great courage and suffered huge losses. In fact, the Worcesters sustained more losses than any brigade in any war, and the PALS earnt the respect of all those who fought with them. Although Military Fiction, it is a story inspired by real people and based on real events that doesn’t forget the role of women in the Great War or their need for a wartime romance – love where they could find it.
Auschwitz 1944: ‘He had no way to tell her he’d saved her life: no right to tell her to abandon hope.’
Walt is a doctor in the women’s infirmary in Auschwitz-Birkenau, a Nazi death camp in Poland, when Miriam, a Jewish nurse, steps down from a cattle wagon and into his heart, but can he save her? Together, they fight to save their patients, joining the camp resistance and risking death daily. liberation throws them from one hell into another, and Walt is forced onto the March of Death through Poland’s bitter winter, leaving Miriam sick with scarlet fever. Can he escape to help her? Post war, Walt hides stolen evidence, which should have been used to convict Nazi war criminals, in order to protect his post-war family. The truth and his own cowardice weigh on his mind and, as a way of dealing with it, he sets in place an elaborate puzzle, not expecting his determined granddaughter to unravel it.
Touching the Wire is split into two parts and is a present-day mystery as well as historical fiction. Part One transitions between 1944/45 Auschwitz and 1970s England and tells of Walt and Miriam’s love, their promises to one another, and their struggle for survival. More of their story is revealed in Part Two as Charlotte searches for the truth her grandfather couldn’t tell her – a truth that blows her ‘safe’ world apart.
‘Heartbreakingly beautiful. Relentlessly compelling.’
GOLD MEDAL WINNER historical fiction Readers’ Favorite Book Awards 2019
FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR – IAN Book Awards 2019
A fictional tale of love, faith, cowardice, and courage, and a tribute to everyone who bore the Auschwitz tattoo or were interred in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust in WW2, this novel is inspired by real events. An inescapable part of Jewish history, Mengele’s medical experiments, carried out under the auspices of war and Hitler’s obsession with a master race are hard to understand, impossible to condone, and difficult to imagine forgiving. The human spirit that finds love in such a place must be rare, but a person in dire circumstances will grab at a kindness where it is offered. Such is the premise of this story, and it asks the question, could you forgive?
Any errors are my own.
Excerpt: “A young woman bent to retrieve her possessions. An SS officer strode past. ‘Leave. Luggage afterwards.’ She stood wide-eyed like a startled deer, one arm cradling a baby. Beside her, an elderly woman clutched a battered suitcase. The girl’s eyes darted from soldier to painted signboard and back. ‘What are we doing here, Grandmother? Why have they brought us here?’ The wind teased at her cheerful red shawl, revealing and lifting long black hair. She straightened and attempted a smile. ‘It’ll be all right, Grandmother. God has protected us on our journey.’ Voices rasped, whips cracked, dogs barked. An SS officer pushed towards a woman of about fifty. ‘How old?’ She didn’t respond, so the officer shouted. He edged closer. As a doctor, he held a privileged position, but he’d also discovered he had a gift for languages. He translated the German to stilted Hungarian, adding quietly. ‘Say you’re under forty-five. Say you are well. Stand here with the younger women.’ He moved from woman to woman, intercepting those he could. ‘Say you are well. Say your daughter is sixteen. Say you can work or have a skill. Say you aren’t pregnant.’ Miriam’s eyes glistened. ‘May He rescue us from every foe.’ She touched her grandmother’s cheek, a gentle, lingering movement, and placed a tender kiss on her baby’s forehead. She moved to stand where he pointed. Miriam’s eyes met his. He had no way to tell her he’d given her life: no right to tell her to abandon hope. ‘Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.’ ”
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