RETURN FROM DARKNESS by Nina Vida

RETURN FROM DARKNESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sprawling, uneven saga from the author of Scam (1984), roughly centered on a German Jewish woman who survives two concentration camps, reassembles a family and dedicates herself to tracking down and exposing former Nazis. It's 1939 and Helene and Maurice Gelson, wealthy Berliners, flee to Rome with their two infant children and their friends, the Liebermanns, hoping to obtain a Vatican visa to escape Nazi-dominated Europe. Despite the assurances of a friendly Nazi officer, Colonel Karl von Kirchner, their desperate petitions are denied. When the Liebermanns decamp with the communal wealth (a fortune in diamonds), Maurice kills himself and his two-year-old daughter, leaving Helene and her three-year-old son, David, alone. The two manage to reach Barcelona, where they fall in with Tonio Katakis, a Greek Jew aiding wartime refugees. When their illegal presence begins to threaten Tonio's operation, Helene knows that she and David must move on. She manages to obtain a precious baptismal certificate for David and leaves him in the safekeeping of a church. Helene is eventually captured, deported to Germany and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where, coincidentally, her former friend Colonel von Kirchner is a commander. She survives several brutal years, saves a small Gypsy girl, and is eventually reunited with Tonio. Settling in Spain, they join in the pursuit of fugitive Nazis. David eventually turns up, having been raised by a Spanish peasant but educated by a super-religious landowner, who had hoped to make him into a priest. David is fascinated by his Jewishness and joins the family Nazi-chasing effort. In search of Colonel von Kirchner, he goes to visit the Liebermanns, who have settled in a remote comer of Northern Arizona. There he finds that the Liebermanns do have some secrets to hide, but that they are also embroiled in a nasty land dispute with the Havasupai Indians, who live nearby at the base of the Grand Canyon. Many plot twists later, the most insidious Nazis are brought to a justice of sorts, and various happy couplings take place. Reasonably competent and readable. Marred by a one-dimensional heroine who returns from darkness with her ability to think in clichÉs intact.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1986
Publisher: Warner