Hi friends! For my first regular post of the New Year, I have for you a review of a new historical fiction novel, Across Great Divides – check it out below, and be sure to click the link to see other stops on the tour AND to enter a giveaway!
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—confronting apartheid in South Africa.
Sixteen-year-old Eva and her twin sister, 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 pendant necklace, is confiscated by the Nazis as they continue to harass Jewish families and businesses.
Their younger brother, Max, a member of the underground resistance, sees even
greater danger ahead. Their father, Oskar, a diamond merchant with a thriving
business, refuses to leave his beloved Germany and believes Hitler will eventually
fail. Their mother, Helene, the elegant matriarch of the family, holds her family
The family is conflicted whether they should leave home. But after the devastation
of Kristallnacht in 1938, they finally flee 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 young German man, a nun, a countess conspiring against the Nazis, and a
winegrower secretly hiding Jewish children, help them to 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 and shields her and her daughter, Zola, 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.
Review: Across Great Divides is a well-researched, solid novel which deals with some of the most difficult and emotion-ridden events in human history. On the massive stage of these events also plays out simpler and quieter dramas – the friendships, love, and courageous choices of individuals.
For me, the best part of Across Great Divides was the characters. I felt invested in their story, particularly Trudy and Elsa. Roy does an excellent job of conveying the constant fear and tension, and the sense that at any moment life as it is might be completely uprooted, even ended. In that sense, even the worst of existences is better than the frightening unknown that might replace it.
At times, Across Great Divides does read more like a narrative nonfiction than a fiction novel, but this is only due to the authors vast knowledge of the events and cultural realities of the time. In its pages is a wealth of language, daily life, and political information, all of which serves to place the reader directly into the world of the story, side by side with people caught up in events beyond their control and striving to remain whole and human in the midst of them. Across Great Divides is an engaging read for anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in the powerful emotional experience of WWII stories.
Monique 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 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 debut, historical fiction novel.
Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas
and is also the author of a children’s book Once Upon a Time in Venice. In her free
time, she 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.
There you have it friends – now that you’ve read about Across Great Divides, click here to see more stops on the tour and enter a giveaway!