My third novel, Julia’s Violinist, begins in wartime but it is not a story about war. It is about people whose lives were disrupted by war, and their struggle to find love after the chaos.
The photo is of the town square in Saaz, which is the opening setting of my book, Julia’s Violinist. After the war, this town was renamed Zatec because it then came under Czechoslovak rule. I mention this in case you are looking for it on a map.
In this excerpt, Karl has been in a Russian POW camp for over a year and has almost given up hope of seeing Julia again.
“Karl! Heinz! Have you heard the news?” Fredi hurried over to them. “We’re to be released soon.”
“Is it possible?” Karl felt his heart trying to jump out of his ribcage. “When? I’ve almost stopped hoping.”
“Next week. Monday.”
“Next week. I can hardly believe it,” Karl said. “The war has been over for more than a year. I was starting to think they would keep us imprisoned forever.”
“God be praised.” Heinz’s chin compressed into dimples and tears filled his eyes. “I never thought I’d see the day. I wonder if my family is still alive.”
“Family,” Karl mumbled to himself. “Family. Humph! Lucky bastard.”
Three days later the POWs gathered their few possessions and lined up at the Stalag gates to have their passbooks stamped on their way to freedom. The last distribution of mail was done as the soldiers passed through the gates. Only a handful of POWs had mail. Karl thought he must have heard wrong when his name was called. The Russian guard tossed a tatty bundle of letters to him and read the next name. Karl was stunned. Not a single letter for over a year and now, on the last day, a bundle of … thirty-one, he counted. All from Julia.
He was frantic with wanting to open them, but nothing, not even these special letters, could make him lag behind in the POW camp. Out! Out! Just get out first, and then I can look at them.
As soon as he was out of sight of the prison camp, he sank down on the ground beside the road. His hands trembled as he opened the first letter. Through tears he saw her lovely handwriting, so perfect and neat; words that spoke of loneliness and longing. Each letter contained a small anecdote of Julia’s home life and ended with the hope that they would see each other again. Around the edges of the pages his name was written over and over in a border design, “KarlKarlKarlKarl. I miss you, Karl.”
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. Other recently released POWs walked by. No one stopped. They had seen it all and there was nothing unusual about a man sitting in the dirt crying his eyes out as he read his mail.
Julia’s Violinist is available in paperback and Kindle at all amazon outlets, and in all e-book formats at smashwords.com