LOVERS AND FUGITIVES by Gabriella Moutner


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An efficient story of a desperate flight, in which a young Jewish couple and an older woman, joined here and there by fellow fugitives, scramble from haven to haven ahead of the Nazis and their collaborators to final freedom. The characters do indulge in feverish philosophic statement from time to time--which seems both so right and yet so out of key--but the emphasis here is on the harrowing escape. Saskia Stark first finds David Held in the aftermath of a raid in Rotterdam. David, thanks to a sacrifice and a message of hope from a doomed friend, had escaped death in a concentration camp. Now, he and Saskia fall in love and marry in the worst of times. With Nazi deportations increasing in Holland, the couple, Saskia's mother Helga, and their friends consider escape. ""Holland, Belgium, France: the entire continent a maze. . .we must scurry through the brain of a mad giant."" And one day David reflects: ""Perhaps the labyrinth has no exit, no exit, no exit at all."" Maybe, thinks Saskia briefly, they should stay, share the fate of the others. But Saskia, David and Helga (and, for a time, her defeated lover) begin the tortuous, terrifying journey, one of forged papers, aliases, disappearing friends, unlikely allies (a Nazi-hating Dutch policeman), hide-outs, and train trips that always have the dreaded tramp of boots down the corridor. Finally, after a harrowing 16-hour ride in a freight train, with Saskia's baby due, delays and false alarms, there's the view of freedom and Switzerland, then the final terror, the final miracle. In spite of the monotonic crisis-dimension of character, this is a competent escape saga--with the built-in solidity of fiction that reflects real tales of courage no less extraordinary.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1986
Publisher: Mercury House--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)