ANJA THE LIAR by Thomas Moran


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In a story of the fragile peace that followed WWII in Central Europe, Moran (What Harry Saw, 2002, etc.) brings together three survivors who have a great deal to hide.

In the war’s aftermath, millions of refugees effectively no longer existed or were occupied by foreign armies. The unluckiest were those, like Anja Wienewska, who found themselves without passports or official documents of any kind. A Pole who had survived the brutal Nazi occupation of her native Krakow by working as an informer for the SS, Anja ended up, in 1945, in a displaced persons camp. There, she met Walter Fass, an engineer and former Wehrmacht officer who had lost an arm in Yugoslavia. Taking advantage of his status (i.e., his papers were in order), Anja and Walter married (she was trying to pass herself off as a German), thereby freeing her from the risk of being repatriated to Poland—where she risked being exposed as a collaborator and shot. The two moved to a small farm that Walter’s family owned just over the Italian border, and Walter found work as an engineer on one of the many reconstruction projects then underway. After the birth of a daughter, it appeared that the two were going to settle down to normal peacetime life, but their domestic happiness was interrupted by the arrival of Mila Cosic, a young Serbian woman. During the war, Mila had fought with the Chetniks, a group of partisans who had opposed first the Nazis, later the Communists. Now an Italian citizen (citizenship was extremely fluid in the years right after the war), Mila had known Walter in Yugoslavia. What was their relationship? And what did she want from him now? Most Europeans who had been through the war learned by instinct to be vague about their actions later on. But sometimes the truth could not stay submerged.

Nicely nuanced, with a fine sense of place and time: good wartime fiction, but nothing very special as a romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-57322-260-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2003


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