Inspired by the author’s true family story of survival during the Second World War, Natalia’s story is an unforgettable portrait of the triumph of the human spirit.
‘In anguish and despair we release this child into the hands of God, with hope and faith that she may be saved...’
On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of a building in Bucharest. With Romania now in league with the Nazis, the Jewish population is doomed. The child is placed in an orphanage and adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she adapts to her new life, she all but forgets the parents forced to leave her behind.
Yet, as Natalia comes of age under Soviet occupation, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading to a discovery that will change her destiny. When she meets Victor, an important official in the Communist regime, she is drawn into a passionate affair despite overwhelming obstacles and her lover’s dark secrets.
When Natalia is offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonising decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she loves, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms – and to confront the painful enigma of her past.
‘There are stories that must be told because in doing so, they shed light on the irreparable consequences of war in the lives of so many innocents.’ Armando Lucas Correa, author of The German Girl
Inspired by the story of her grandparents, debut author Veletzos's excellent novel centers on the devastation of Romania by Germany during WWII, and the country's subsequent struggles under Soviet rule. During a pogrom in 1941 Bucharest, a young Jewish couple flees their home. Fearing their capture, they leave their three-year-old daughter behind in an apartment building, hoping that someone will take her in and care for her. Their daughter, Natalia, is brought to an orphanage and is later adopted by Anton and Despina Goza, an affluent childless couple. Despite the bombings and the food shortages, Anton, Despina, and Natalia survive the war with their family intact. When the Soviets invade Romania, the government takes over every aspect of their lives, including Anton's store, and the Gozas are forced out of their home and must live in communal housing. Through all of their trials, Anton maintains his friendship with Victor, a younger man who once lived above his shop and is now a powerful government official. Natalia, no longer the impressionable girl Victor once knew, is now a beautiful, spirited young woman, and Natalia and Victor's passionate romance becomes complicated by his allegiance to the Communist Party. Veletzos expertly weaves historical detail into a rich story about the endurance of the human spirit in the face of adversity.