Across Great Divides is a timeless, World War II story of the upheavals of war, the power of family, and the resiliency of human spirit. When Hitler comes to power in 1933, one Jewish family refuses to be destroyed and defies the Nazis only to come up against another struggle—confronting Apartheid in South Africa.
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As Jews, life becomes increasingly difficult for identical twin sisters Eva and Inge under the oppressive and anti-Semitic laws of Nazi Germany. After witnessing the horrors of Kristallnacht, they flee their beloved homeland, finally finding a new home for themselves in the beautiful country of South Africa; however, just as things begin to feel safe, their new home becomes caught up in its own battles of bigotry and hate under the National Party’s demand for apartheid. Will Eva and Inge ever be allowed to live in peace? Across Great Divides is a tale of one family’s struggle to survive in a world tainted with hate, and the power of love that held them all together
What a beautifully written book this is! I must admit the cover of this book does not do the story justice, that is the only criticism i have.
The story of twin’s Eva and Inge and their family follows them from pre-war Berlin to South Africa. The family are Jewish and you feel as if you are living alongside them as the Nazi’s slowly take over Germany. The family decide they have to flee Germany and make a new life.
My heart was in my mouth during their journey to freedom. Would they be caught? I really couldn’t second guess the outcome. I could imagine the plight of the family and other families like them. It really brought the attrocities of this time to life.
Belgium is not their only quest along their bid to freedom, they try to make a life in Rio de janiero and they finally settle in South Africa.
The characters are warm and caring, especially the twins. When they employ a black lady called Zoe to become their maid you can clearly see the comparison between the way the Nazi’s treated the Jews to how the white South Africans treated the black South Africans. As apartheid begins the family stay true to themselves and refuse to treat Zoe and her daughter any different from themselves.
This is such a heartwarming tale of a family who survive agaisnt all odds, as well as the main storylines of the Nazi’s and apartheid Monique manages to still interweave the love stories of Inge and Eva, their marriages and children.
The diamond trade is also a focal point, Oskar, Inge and Eva’s father is a jeweller, it’s due to this that they are able to set up home in different countries and still manage to survive.
There is also the lovely story of Eva’s childhood best friend Trudy, . Trudy’s family become strict Nazi’s which means Trudy can no longer associate with Eva and they lose touch. Without spoiling this part of the story there is a reunion between Trudy and Eva, fate brings them back together and also reunites the family with a treasured piece of jewellery that they lost to the Nazi’s.
Monique uses such descriptive language, especially during the family’s journeys to freedom. A highly recommended read from me.
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Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides. She is also the author of a middle-grade book, Once Upon a Time in Venice, and Monique is working on her third novel, which also takes place during the World War II era.
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