A secret from the war with the power to change one woman’s future…
1939: War has broken out, and in Albania Bekim’s family take in a Jewish family fleeing from Nazi Austria. The years of war will shape his life in unimaginable ways as Bekim grows to love Hannelore, doing everything in his power to protect her. But will he be enough to keep her safe?
2019: Following a shock redundancy, Ruth is taking an extended holiday in southern Italy where she befriends local Zak. When Zak’s dying father asks them to solve a mystery from his past, Ruth leaps at the chance. Journeying through his homeland of Albania, Ruth and Zak race to find the sacred artefacts hidden in the mountains during the war.
Ruth’s successful job as a news presenter on British television has suddenly been terminated. She is sure this is because as a woman of 45 she no longer fits the media image. A generous redundancy package has given her the opportunity to spend several weeks by the sea in Italy. Her friendly hosts help her to relax and introduce her to Zak, a pleasant local businessman who originates from Albania. Soon she is learning the story of his family, particularly during World War Two. Despite poverty, Albanians feel it is their duty to care for guests in their country and so when Jewish families fled from the Nazis the local people hid them from the advancing German army.
We move from 2019 to 1939 through the journal of Zak’s father Bekim. Reading of friendship and romance between Bekim and Hannah, one of the Jewish refugees, Ruth learns a great deal about Albania and she welcomes Zak’s invitation to visit the country. She loves the countryside and meets Zak’s family, but she is not sure if this will be anything more than a casual holiday flirtation since both she and Zak have had failed relationships in the pasts. When Zak and his sister rush off to see Bekim, who is dying, Ruth is happy to stay on her own looking after the chickens but there are criminals in the area and soon she fears for her safety.
The story of Bekim and Hannah is distressing and emotional and I was fascinated to read about the history of Albania both during the war and afterwards. The relationship between Zak and Ruth grows slowly into trust and affection and the reader wants them to find the happiness which Bekim and Hannah lost.
Out of the Mountain’s Shadow on Amazon UK
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