Across Great Divides is a timeless story of the upheavals of war, the power of family, and the resiliency of human spirit. When Hitler came to power in 1933, one Jewish family refused to be destroyed and defied the Nazis only to come up against another struggle—apartheid in South Africa.
Sixteen-year-old twins, Eva and Inge, witness their lives in Berlin change before their eyes. Their best friend, Trudy, betrays them when she becomes a member of the Hitler Youth. A valuable family heirloom, a beautiful emerald and diamond necklace, is confiscated by the Nazis as they harass Jewish families and businesses.
Their younger brother, Max, a member of the underground resistance, sees great danger ahead. Their father, Oskar, a successful diamond merchant, refuses to leave his beloved Germany and believes Hitler will fail. Their mother, Helene, holds her family together under dire circumstances.
After the devastation of Kristallnacht in 1938, the family flees Germany with the help of the underground resistance after hiding many diamonds. They seek refuge in Antwerp, but war follows them as Belgium is occupied by the Germans.
A German man, a nun, a countess, and a winegrower help the family escape Europe. They hike over the Pyrenees Mountains while eluding German patrols and Spanish informers. Then, they spend agonizing days on a ship bound for Rio de Janeiro that is targeted by a German U-boat. As Rio’s diamond business is corrupt, they decide to go to South Africa, another diamond market.
In Cape Town, Eva encounters an impoverished colored woman, Zoe, who is in need of work. The family hires Zoe as their maid. They shield her and her daughter from the dangers they face in the slums of District Six and from the horrors of apartheid, which are all too reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
But, when Max gets into trouble with the South African police over his participation in an anti-apartheid march, will he be subject to imprisonment?
In a thrilling conclusion, the family comes to terms with the evils of society, both in their memories and current situation in South Africa.
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Monique Roy loves writing that twitches her smiling muscles or transports her to another time or place. Her passion for writing began as a young girl while penning stories in a journal. Now she looks forward to deepening her passion by creating many unique stories that do nothing less than intrigue her readers.
Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and is the author of a middle-grade book Once Upon a Time in Venice. Monique loves to travel, play tennis, pursue her passion for writing, and read historical fiction. In 2008, she was chosen by the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS program to travel to Berlin, Germany, on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, to explore German and Israeli relations along with 20 other Jewish professionals from across the U.S.
Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides, her newest novel.
What attracts Monique to historical fiction is taking the factual record as a structure and letting imagination run wild to fill it all in. Historical fiction lets you escape to another time and place; and Monique likes to explore the past so that we can potentially better understand the future.
Her latest book is the historical fiction, Across Great Divides.
Visit her website at www.monique-roy.com.
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It seems that I never tire of historical novels during the time of WWII. And this is one that is inspired by a true story. Not only that, but the time period extends to other time periods and countries. No matter how many times I read the horrors the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews, I still find it nauseating. This book does not include the grisly details of the Holocaust, but enough detail is implied to still insinuate the terrors of this period of history. The characters that the author has created are impeccable to a flaw, and they present the humanity of this tale. The author does not whitewash anything, and realism indeed pervades the story.
The portion of the book that takes place in South Africa was the most fascinating. I never knew where or how apartheid was inaugurated. That part of my historical knowledge is rather sketchy. As I read about the laws being enacted and the way it affected the black people in South Africa, I was repulsed. Seeing it through the eyes of Jews who had been victims of prejudice enlightened me to even a greater degree. The more I read about history, the less I know, it would seem.
There is decidedly little potentially objectionable material in the book. There are no real bedroom scenes (a brief exchange between a husband and wife, but nothing problematic), and the profanity is minimal (although I wish those words had been omitted). I can overlook any potential issues due to the amazing scholarship with which it is written.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
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