Well, Readers, I am not certain how we can be this far into December already! As much as I wouldn’t mind moving past 2020, there’s too much to do before the end. I still need to finish some writing projects—my NaNoWriMo recap, a piece on a bit of WWII history linked to a beloved Christmas song, and another piece on some WWII family history. Then there are Christmas cards to mail, teaching, parenting, baking, and oh no, what’s that sticky stuff someone spilled in the fridge…
Amidst all of the bustle and activity that surrounds this time of year, I was pleased to have an excellent reason to pause and check out some new World War II fiction. Author Tessa Harris (also a member of the Second World War Group I mentioned in my last post) is releasing a new novel, and I had the chance to get an early look at it! Below is the blurb from Amazon.com.
Smoke filled the air. Lilli Sternberg’s quickening heart sounded an alarm as she rounded the street corner. Lifting her gaze to the rooftops, a roaring blaze of thick flames engulfed the side of the building and joined the stars to fill the black sky. Her father’s shop was no more.From the Amazon page for “Beneath a Starless Sky” by Tessa Harris
Lilli Sternberg longs to be a ballet dancer. But outside the sanctuary of the theatre, her beloved city is in chaos and Munich is no longer a place for dreams.
The Nazi party are gaining power and the threats to those who deviate from the party line are increasing. Jewish families are being targeted and their businesses raided, even her father’s shop was torched because of their faith.
When Lilli meets Captain Marco Zeiller during a chance encounter, her heart soars. He is the perfect gentleman and her love for him feels like a bright hope under a bleak sky.
But battle lines are being drawn, and Marco has been spotted by the Reich as an officer with great potential. A relationship with Lilli would compromise them both.
Will Lilli be able to escape the threats facing her family, and how much is she willing to risk for the man she loves?“
After reading the above, I had expected this novel to be a fairly straightforward “forbidden love” story between Lilli and Marco. Instead, Harris’s novel twists and turns through love and loss and through locations from pre-war Germany to Hollywood, Britain, and France. Lilli not only struggles with the challenges of her romance with Marco, but with her heritage, her relationships with and obligations to her family, and the physical strain of her dancing career. Ultimately, she has to choose how far she will go to help her people and protect those she loves as tensions in the world mount and the war begins and spreads. The story kept me up reading later than I intended to, wondering what would happen next!
Without giving away major plot points, Lilli winds up in the position to meet many real, prominent people of the era like Fred Astair, Edward VIII (briefly king of the United Kingdom until he abdicated) and his wife, Wallis Simpson (whom he abdicated in order to marry.) Harris’s story mingled historical facts from the lives and actions of these people in a fictionalized account which made for interesting reading and introduced some pieces of history that I wasn’t aware of.
If you’re a reader who enjoys WWII era romance and historical fiction involving real people from history, “Beneath a Starless Sky” is coming out soon!