I am very excited that my latest novel, The Paris of the East, is out soon. This is a historical novel that follows the lives of four Polish young people just before the start of war in 1939 until the war’s end in 1945. The novel opens with my four main characters picnicking on a brilliant summer’s day, celebrating an engagement, aware of the rumbles of war, but not knowing how much their lives are soon to be impacted by a brutal war and occupation.
To give you some background for the inspiration for this novel, a Polish edition of my book Unbreakable Spirit was published a few years ago and I spent a week in Poland promoting the book. During that time I fell in love with the Polish people I met, and I was spellbound by Poland’s rich and often tragic history.
On tour I met Wanda Poltawska, an astonishing woman in her 90s who survived being a ‘guinea pig’ at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. I read her memoirs and other books written from a Polish perspective. I was struck by several things – the daring feats of Polish pilots during the war, the inspiring way the camp population at Ravensbruck rounded together to save a group of women who had been operated on by the Nazis, and the tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising. This inspired me to start the first draft of The Paris of the East – a book that took about a year to research, and another year to write.
This novel is inspired by many real life stories of brave Polish men and women. While I am not Polish myself, this is a universal story of courage and survival, of humanity and hope, which constantly had me asking what I would have done if I was in the same circumstances. Would I have joined the Resistance, or would I have been too afraid? Would I have fought for freedom? Would I have maintained my humanity despite the brutality around me? Would I have given to others when I had little myself?
The Paris of the East is a story of love, courage and survival set during these extraordinary times. The action goes from Warsaw to Lublin, from Bucharest to Paris, from London to the Concentration Camp at Ravensbruck – but always at the heart of this novel is the mesmerising city of Warsaw – the once beautiful ‘Paris of the East’ that was completely obliterated by the Germans at the war’s end. I hope you will enjoy reading it.