I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for The Seamstress Of Warsaw today. I’m sharing an extract with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell and the team at Spellbound Books for inviting me on the tour and for my copy of the extract.
A man learns a shocking truth about his past.
A mother writes a diary as the ghetto walls go up.
From the bombed streets of London, to occupied Warsaw, to the Polish forests bristling with partisans, will their paths cross? Will their pasts be reconciled? And will they survive the deadly assaults on their freedom and their lives?
THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW is a tale of endurance and loss, family and blood, stories and histories, that questions the nature of who we are and where we are going, when the road ahead is burning.
Dad shouted something to him.
“Son, listen to me.”
A terrible gust ripped through the flat. Daniel felt an almighty force lift him from the floor and drop him down again. When he opened his eyes, all the lights had gone out. He felt the desk was on its side behind him. He looked into the other room, draped in silver light. He saw the dining table was gone and the floor strewn with glass and rubble. The windows were blown to pieces and there was a gaping hole in the wall. Dad was lying on the floor on the other side of the sitting room, his legs covered in lumps of wall, shreds of wallpaper still clinging to them. He was awake, his eyes screwed tight shut. He was spitting dust.
“Are you all right?” He lunged over to him. “Dad, are you all right?”
He opened his eyes but did not speak.
“I’m off to get First Aid.”
But his father muttered, “No. Raid still on. Too dangerous.”
He fetched blankets to put over Dad and wrap round himself.
“Daniel?” His voice was so small. Daniel looked down at him. Was it only the Bomber’s Moon that made his face so white?
“I’m going to get help.” He jumped up.
“Daniel, Daniel.” Dad lifted his hand and beckoned his son closer. He leaned down and held his hand. He was frightened that Dad knew these were going to be his last words.
“Daniel, before it’s too late. I have to tell you. I loved you. I do love you.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
“You have to know something. Listen to me. I adopted you. I found you in an orphanage in Poland. In Warsaw. You were a baby. I took you home. I don’t know who your real parents are. But you are my son. You are my son, Daniel. I love you.” He squeezed his son’s hand. “I’m sorry, so sorry.” He closed his eyes. His face changed. He was dead. Daniel knew that. He was dead.
Daniel drew the blanket over Dad’s face. He sat beside him for hours. The raid came and went in waves. Never so close again, but near enough to make him recoil at times. He never once looked down at the body. Quiet crept in stealthily. The moonlight caught sharp edges across the ruins of his home.
When he heard the All Clear, he found his torch and used it to negotiate the stairs. There wasn’t a soul around. They must all be in the shelters. He went out into Tavistock Square. Theirs was one of the few houses still intact. One side of the square had been flattened. Fierce heat billowed from the burning houses. He stumbled across debris, then saw a little boy appear, all alone, his hair sticking up a hundred ways. He was rifling through the rubble and holding on to a large chunk of metal. He saw Daniel and said, “Look! A bit of an oil-bomb!”
Daniel spotted two ARP men on the far side of the square and ran over to them.
“What is it?” one said.
He could not speak. They followed him. Three torch beams bobbed up the staircase. When they got in there, he showed them the body. One of them peeled back the blanket. A torch lit up Dad’s face. Daniel looked away. He said, “I know he’s dead.”
One warden patted him on the back. “I’ll go get a van.”
The other ARP man placed his torch on a shelf, illuminating his notepad and pen.
“What’s your name, son?”
Daniel thought about this.
“You in shock?” the ARP man said gently. “What’s your name, eh?”
The man wrote it down. “And your Dad. It is your Dad, isn’t it?”
Daniel sat on the floor with the body for a long time. Someone touched his hair. He looked up and saw Magda’s face, round and pale.
The Seamstress Of Warsaw is available from Amazon.
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