Atlit is a holding camp for "illegal" immigrants in Israel in 1945. There, about 270 men and women await their future and try to recover from their past. Diamant, with infinite compassion and understanding, tells the stories of the women gathered in this place.
Shayndel is a Polish Zionist who fought the Germans with a band of partisans. Leonie is a Parisian beauty. Tedi is Dutch, a strapping blond who wants only to forget. Zorah survived Auschwitz. Haunted by unspeakable memories and too many losses to bear, these young women, along with a stunning cast of supporting characters who work in or pass through Atlit, begin to find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience, as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves and discovering a way to live again.
Diamant's interpretation of the founding of Israel centers on several young women, many of them survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, attempting an escape from another camp, this one a British internment center in Palestine. Dagmara Dominczyk is good with the panoply of European accents evinced by Diamant's characters, and does an adequate job with the Hebrew and Yiddish gutturals, but some of the basics flummox her: the name of one of the book's protagonists should be pronounced SHAYN-del, not Shayn-DEL. These jarring mistakes notwithstanding, Dominczyk is adept at modulating her voice, using shifts in timber, intonation, and accent bring each of Diamant's heroines to life. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Jul. 6).