A heartbreakingly beautiful drama about the wages of survival.


This final installment of a historical fiction trilogy chronicles the travails of a family uprooted from its Czech home during World War II.

In 1940, Sophie Kohut’s predicament is grim. Having fled Prague, she now lives in London with her 4-year-old son, Pavel, under the constant threat of German air raids. In addition, she’s at perpetual loggerheads with her in-laws, with whom she lodges, Emil and Judit, well-intentioned but also imperious, intrusive, and endlessly judgmental. Meanwhile, Sophie’s husband, Willy, a soldier in the Czechoslovak Army-in-Exile, is stationed in Malpas. He is part of a group of “mutineers” disgruntled by their shameful mistreatment—especially Jews, like Willy, who are ostracized by the British-recognized Czech president, Edvard Beneš. The London Blitz only grows worse, and as a consequence, Emil turns to family friend George Kindell to help him relocate the Kohuts to safer territory. George agrees to orchestrate their flight to Cambridge and even promises to help Willy join the British army, but only if he will vigilantly gather information on Communist sympathizers in his ranks, especially one particularly brutal sort, Leopold Povídka. The family members are ultimately scattered despite their best efforts to remain together—Willy to serve in the British Royal Engineers, Sophie to run a cafe, and young Pavel to live with other children out in the country under the hateful tutelage of his custodian, Mrs. McAlistair. Curtis (Café Budapest, 2018, etc.) magisterially captures the toll war inevitably takes on even the strongest families, a lesson powerfully expressed by Sophie when her frustration with her disapproving in-laws reaches a tipping point: “I admit I’ve changed—just like you. I’m no longer obedient or perfectly behaved—but Willy, Pavel, and I survived. Nazis, hunger, fear, not knowing what to do next.” In addition, Pavel’s callow naiveté supplies a unique roost from which to view human degradation. Like the protagonist in Imre Kertesz’s Fatelessness, he’s totally unencumbered by ideology or historical identity and so experiences his suffering from a perch of unvarnished innocence. Curtis continues to artfully braid literary poignancy with potent historical witness in this achingly realistic tale.

A heartbreakingly beautiful drama about the wages of survival. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 465

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2019

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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