A skillful and affecting combination of literary drama and historical research.

SURVIVING THE DEADLY UPHEAVAL

A HISTORICAL NOVEL BASED ON TRUE STORIES OF MANY PEOPLE HAVING ENDURED THE GREAT FORGOTTEN EXPULSION

After the conclusion of World War II, a German Bohemian family is forced from its home in Czechoslovakia and beset by hardships in this debut novel.

During the war, invading German forces annexed Czech territories, causing considerable resentment against local German Bohemians and German Czechs. In 1945, the war is over, and following seven years of German occupation, the acrimony “had turned ugly, brutal, and violent.” Hans and Mattie Novak, two German Bohemians, fret anxiously over their increasingly precarious future and prepare for the worst-case scenario—a relocation, which would be daunting for them and their four kids. However, the decision is made for them when Hans is brutally beaten by local policemen and ordered to leave his beloved home immediately. Author Albert poignantly chronicles the harrowing plight of the Novaks, who attempt to cross through the forest into Austria and take temporary lodging at an American refugee camp. This refuge is short-lived, however, as the camp is ravaged by a typhus epidemic, and the disease nearly costs Mattie her life. The family finally makes their way to the home of Hans’ best friend, Heinrich. But Heinrich later savagely rapes and beats Mattie, which plunges her into a deep depression. In lucid, unflinching language, Albert ably captures the burdens of the Novaks’ exile over the course of the book. The author also affectingly limns the historical period in which they lived, as well as the ethnic divisions that roiled Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Second World War—and especially the hatred of a people that “wanted fierce revenge—cruel, violent revenge—and all with the blessing of President Beneš’ retribution decree.” Overall, Albert delivers a moving tale that’s emotionally authentic and historically astute.

A skillful and affecting combination of literary drama and historical research.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-5719-4

Page Count: 168

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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