Today I'm absolutely thrilled to be on the be on the blog tour for Liz Kessler's latest novel, When The World Was Ours. Set during the Second World War, the novel follows the lives of three childhood friends, whose lives are closely intertwined, even though their lives take very different paths. Inspired by the true story of the author's father as he escaped Nazi occupied Europe. This book is already receiving outstanding reviews and will without doubt be on award lists by the end of the year.
I have an exclusive excerpt from the book, just for you today from Elsa's point of view.
I rub my eyes and stare at my parents. I must have heard them wrong. I must have. Half of me wants to ask them to repeat what they’ve just told us. The other half is terrified of hearing the words again.
‘You can’t be serious,’ Otto says before I have decided which way to go. ‘You’re sending us away? This has to be some kind of a joke, right?’
Vati turns towards my brother. ‘Do we look like we are joking, Otto?’ he asks, his voice husky and dark.
‘But – but things aren’t really so bad, are they?’ I ask.
‘How bad do you want them to get, Elsa?’ Vati replies. ‘It’s not enough that neither you nor Otto is allowed to join the youth groups with all the other children? Not enough that I have no work, that you are not allowed to walk in the park, ride your bicycles, go swimming! Not enough that our friends are disappearing on a daily basis?’
Mutti puts her hand on his arm. ‘Darling, go gently on the children. They don’t need to think about all of this.’
‘But, Stella, that’s just it. They do need to think about all this. We have to face what is happening.’
‘We are facing it,’ Mutti replies calmly. ‘I am with you on this decision. But still, we don’t need to ram it down their throats.’
Vati lets out a breath. ‘Very well,’ he says. ‘But the decision is made. We just have to sit tight and wait till we are given our date. But it will be soon.’
‘Soon? Like, weeks away?’ Otto asks.
‘Days, more likely,’ Vati confesses.
‘Days?’ I croak.
Mutti is crying openly now. ‘My babies. Believe me, if we thought we had any other options, we would take them.’
‘But why can’t you come with us?’ Otto asks. My big brother, the one who always tries so hard to be tough and strong and capable, sounds as scared as me.
‘They won’t let us,’ Vati replies. ‘We are not allowed out of the country. But you children have a chance. And your mother and I will not sit here and let the chance go by without reaching out to grab it.’
Mutti kneels in front of Otto and me. She takes our hands. ‘You are the most important things in our lives,’ she says. ‘There is nothing that I care about as much as you.’
‘Then why are you sending us away?’ I ask. My throat hurts and I can barely get the words out.
‘Because we want you to live,’ Vati says simply.
‘We’re living now,’ I argue weakly. ‘Can’t we just carry on as we are?’ I think about the last time we went through this, leaving my two best friends. In Prague I have only one true friend. I can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to Greta.
I honestly can't wait to read the whole book. If you want to catch up with all the other blog posts on the tour, please check out the list above.