(The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2)
From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes the new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.
Her beauty saved her life – and condemned her.
Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, in 1942. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.
After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to Siberia. But what choice did she have? And where did the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when still a child?
In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she makes an impression on a woman doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing. Cilka begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.
Cilka finds endless resources within herself as she daily confronts death and faces terror. And when she nurses a man called Ivan, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.
Sixteen-year-old Cilka’s arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau was followed by three years of heartbreak, torture and loss. It was also where she lost her innocence; where she met Gita, who was to be her best friend, and Lale the tattooist who marked her, and everyone else, with the number that identified her. At the time of liberation, in 1945, Cilka was interrogated and charged as a collaborator. Her punishment was to be 15 years in the notorious Vorkuta Gulag in the icy wastes of Siberia. Cilka’s life would change once more…
The hut that the women were housed in, where Cilka eventually formed friendships, was cold and miserable. Working in the mines was debilitating, exhausting work, but when Cilka met a compassionate woman doctor at the hospital and was asked to work there as her caring nature would be an asset, Cilka was grateful. Conditions were a little better but each night she returned to her hut after being confronted with death and shocking injuries. The fortitude and strength that Cilka held inside rarely faltered, but more was to come to test her. What was to be the outcome of this horror for Cilka? Would she ever know peace?
Cilka’s Journey by Aussie author Heather Morris is the sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz where we met Lale as he told his story. Once again, the author has based her new story on fact, with Cilka being a real person, set in history; the settings are horribly authentic; the bravery and courage of Cilka mentioned to the author by Lale when she interviewed him. The artistry of the author as she blended fact with fiction shows a great amount of research – her mention of that research and how much time was devoted to it, is at the end of the book. Cilka’s Journey takes us back to a shocking time in history, a time I hope is never repeated. It is also a historical novel I highly recommend.
With thanks to Bonnier/Echo and associated publishers for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.