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Maggie Brookes is an ex-journalist and BBC TV documentary producer, turned poet and novelist. She's also an associate professor at Middlesex University, and an advisory fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. The Prisoner's Wife is based on a true story told to her in a lift, by a World War II prisoner of war. Maggie visited Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany as part of her research for the book, uncovering largely forgotten aspects of the war. Although the story can be harrowing at times, it's also about the power of friendship and of love.
Set in one of the most harrowing times in history, this powerfully beautiful relationship and friendship story shines a blazing torch on the very best that humanity has to offer. When British prisoner of war Bill, while on work duty from a labour camp in the depths of Czechoslovakia in 1944, meets farmer Izabela, love blossoms. They secretly marry, go on the run and determine that they will never be separated, not even if captured by the German army. Based on a true story it feels as though Maggie Brookes was destined to meet Sidney Reed who told her this tale, and that as a historical documentary researcher and producer for the BBC she was perfectly placed to write this as a novel. The prologue starts with the couple on the run from the German army, Izabela has disguised herself as a man, and by pretending to be mute when finally captured, is taken with Bill to a prisoner of war camp. Setting the scene so thoroughly heightened my emotions as chapter one then took me back to their first meeting. I’ve already read a number of novels and non-fiction books relating to this time, including one of the books Maggie Brookes mentions as further reading. My prior reading and knowing what was to come from the prologue, still in no way prepared me for what Bill and Izabela were to face. This intimate, vivid and compelling account reaches through the nightmare and finds true love and friendship, all of which is written beautifully by the author. The Prisoner’s Wife meets horror head on, so prepare yourself, but it also filled me with hope, and this comes as highly recommended by me.
'An absorbing and engaging tale of wartime bravery and endurance. Bill and Izabela are such tenderly drawn characters ... I loved it!' RACHEL HORE, author of Last Letter Home and The Memory Garden _______________________________ Their love is a death sentence. But can it keep them alive? Czechoslovakia, 1944. In the dead of night, a farm girl and a British soldier creep through abandoned villages. Secretly married and on the run, Bill and Izabela are searching for Izabela's brother and father, who are fighting for the Czech resistance. They know their luck will not last. Captured by the German army, it seems they must be separated - but they have prepared for this moment. By cutting her hair and pretending to be mute, Izabela successfully disguises herself as a British soldier. Together, they face the terrible conditions of a POW camp, reliant on the help of their fellow POWs to maintain their fragile deception. Their situation is beyond dangerous. If Izabela is discovered, she and Bill - and all the men who helped them - will face lethal consequences. _______________________________ A novel set in war-torn Czechoslovakia amid the extreme privations of a prisoner of war camp, based on a true story of passion, heroism and a love that transcends overwhelming odds. _______________________________ 'Deeply moving and compelling ... an epic journey not only across war-torn countries but deep into the heart of what it is to be human. A heart-rending story beautifully told.' JUDITH ALLNAT, author of The Poet's Wife and The Silk Factory 'Heart-wrenching and heart-warming in equal measure, The Prisoner's Wife is an unputdownable novel ... finely crafted, atmospheric, often nail-biting.' BEN KANE, author of The Eagles of Rome series 'A story of danger, fear, determination and the redemptive power of love in war-torn Europe. It is a story that Hemingway might have envied.' JULIET GARDINER, author of Wartime: Britain 1939 to 1945 and The Blitz: The British Under Attack. 'A gripping novel that explores the question of how much the human body, and the human spirit, can endure for the sake of love. The wealth of authentic detail makes it feel like a memoir ... I feel enriched to have read it.' GILL PAUL, author of The Lost Daughter and The Secret Wife 'The Prisoner's Wife seamlessly and skilfully breathes intense, fully realised life into the stark scenes it describes. I was by turns moved, outraged and humbled' DEBORAH KAY DAVIES, author of True Things About Me 'A powerful page-turner' MARIE BENEDICT, New York Times bestselling author of Lady Clementine 'You will be spellbound by this stellar novel. So richly imbued with sensory details you'll be feeling every anguished moment and every golden ray of hope.' SUSAN MEISSNER, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War 'The most unique World War II story I've ever read... Romantic, perfectly observed, inspiring, and thrilling - The Prisoner's Wife is impossible to put down - and when I did, I was teary-eyed. A complete winner.' SARAH-JANE STRATFORD, author of Red Letter Days 'Tremendous ... this is much more than a love story' GEORGINA CLARKE, author of Death and the Harlot 'Engrossing, harrowing and heart-warming' ANN MORGAN, author of Reading The World 'This is a beautiful book that will give any reader in dark times a reason to believe in the continuing goodness of people' NICOLA GRIFFITH, author of Hild