“We stumble along past the polluted streams, as pussy willows lose their kitten plush, morph into pollen-dusty worms, then leaf into green leaves. Spring insists on life in spite of burned-out houses, charred trees, blackened fields.”
That’s just an example of the vivid meaningful descriptions you will find in Gabriele Goldstone’s new novel Crow Stone. It is the fourth in her series that tells the story of a young woman named Katya determined to survive one tragedy after another beginning in the early 1930s when she is forced to move from Ukraine to Siberia and then to East Prussia, and in 1945……. after Germany is defeated in World War II, back to work in a Soviet labour camp.
One by one Katya loses her family- her parents, her siblings, her aunts and uncles and her cousins until she is left all alone to fight the battle for survival.
Crowstone Gabriele’s latest novel about Katya has already garnered some excellent reviews – Kirkus called it …..
“Difficult, harsh, and worthy of attention” praising Gabriele for the way she paints the horrors of war vividly and comprehensively.
The excerpt below gives you an idea of what the Kirkus reviewer is talking about. It is part of the description of Katya’s seemingly endless walk to the labour camp after she and a large group of women have been captured by the Soviets.
“At night it’s still cold. We huddle like cows, on the thawing ground, drinking water from puddles like orphaned dogs. Rivers, contaminated with death, littered with empty prams, broken furniture and bloated bodies, continue to flow. Death contaminates us all.”
The amount of meticulous research Gabriele has done to write her series is so impressive as the supplemental reading references at the end of Crow Stone attest. She has also made trips to many of the locations in her novels to look for documentation and background material and to see the places she is writing about for herself.
Katya’s story is all the more moving and meaningful because it was inspired by memories Gabriele’s mother shared sparingly with her daughter throughout her life.
At the end of Crow Stone Gabriele lists the facts from her mother’s life she incorporated into the book and I found it so interesting to go back and find the bits and pieces of her mother’s story in the places they were referenced.
Another fascinating detail is that the cover of Crow Stone features the 1947 prisoner-of-war release papers for Gabriele’s mother.
I particularly appreciated the way Crow Stone shows us that it is not always easy to figure out who is your enemy and who you should hate. A young woman named Natasha, a former employee of Katya’s family, puts it well when she describes so many people caught up in the war as…….. those who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Crow Stone is a riveting engaging read, tragic and troubling certainly, but ultimately a tribute to the human spirit of survival.
Gabriele who is a friend of mine, and a member of a writers’ group I have belonged to for almost a decade, launches her book tonight at McNally Robinson Booksellers and I am so sorry that I will be travelling and will have to miss her launch.
I’m inviting you to go in my stead for what is sure to be a wonderful evening and a great opportunity to buy her excellent book and have it signed.