I owe this review to Maria Sutton, the wonderful lady who wrote The Night Sky. A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back. One Woman's Story of Quiet Courage and Love: a memoir.
I received the book at the end of last year and started reading the first few gripping pages just before Christmas. However due to circumstances I was unable to continue and focus on this so had to put it aside until last week. I cannot remember the last time I read a book so quickly. For me this book was a real page turner. A journey of one woman to find her father, uncle and other relatives and puzzle together the life of her mother who lived through the war and eventually reached the USA.
The book is well written, clearly with love and never dull. I could not wait to get on the bus to work and back or to curl up under my duvet to see where this journey was taking me.
Of late we have been reading a number of war stories in our household. A subject that I would normally like to put aside. Rightly or wrongly I quite like my little monkeys to remain in their happy little reading world as they see and hear too much drama in the newspaper and on the news channels. However due to the recent tears of Kate Middleton at the premiere of War Horse, this is now a must read at school and girl monkey is also reading Anne Frank's Diary. A book close to my heart. I read the book at age 10 and in Holland, every year on the 4th May there used to be a film, play or documentary about her life on the television to remember those lives affected by WWII. Girl monkey is moved by what she reads and surprised at the same time: "Did they not have solar power at that time?" and questioning why anyone would have a transistor radio or the fairly grown up language used at times.
My parents lived through WWII and I have heard many stories from them, always moving and I can never forget any of them, even though by comparison it wasn't all that bad for them really.
It is amazing how driven the author of The Night Sky is in her pursuit of her family. It must be so hard not knowing who your father is. Recently one of my friends found her father after nearly 42 years, she never knew who he was and she is lucky enough to find him healthy and well and they are able to build a bond between them.
I would really like to thank Maria Sutton for writing this book. I cannot recommend it enough and hope that many of you will be able to get your hands on this (it is available from Amazon). I have included the synopsis (copied from the book as no one could have written that better) below.
This extraordinary and unflinchingly honest memoir takes us on a riveting journey into the hearts and souls of three enigmatic people whose destinies are forever changed by the events of World War II. The secrets of misguided love and passions are revealed as the author journeys between the past and the present to solve the mystery of a handsome Polish officer with piercing blue eyes and sun-colored hair. Maria Sutton takes us to the dark green hills and valleys of the ancient Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, where the woody fragrance of birch trees and new-mown hay fills the fresh, crisp air after a heavy rain. Vicariously, we see a sunrise over Poland obscured by brightly colored swastikas on warplanes and then we will be taken into suffocating cattle cars, lice-infested stalags, and to the Dachau death camp. Further down a country road, the hearty laughter and beer steins clinking with each salute to the Fuhrer’s astonishing victories can be heard.
As Maria takes us on this odyssey to solve a decades-long mystery, she learns the family secrets of untold heroism, quiet courage, and a mother’s love – and of tragedy, disillusionment and heartbreak. At the end of her long journey, Maria uncovers a shattering and painful truth. But the secret, however heartbreaking, would also become the greatest gift she would receive.