My book The Note Through the Wire tells the WWII love story of Josefine Lobnik, a Slovene resistance fighter, and Bruce Murray, an Allied prisoner of war. They met by chance when she passed a note through the wire of a POW camp seeking information on her brother Leopold who had been captured by the Nazis.
I’ve known about this story for almost 40 years—Bruce and Josefine were my parents-in-law and I learned about their wartime exploits when I was introduced to them over a traditional Slovenian dinner accompanied by more beer, wine and slivovitz than was healthy for any of us. I felt somewhat intimidated being in the company of genuine war heroes but quickly learned that they were ordinary people who, when faced with adversity, had done extraordinary things during one of the most turbulent times in modern history. As Josefine always said, with typical modesty, ‘we just did what we had to’. That she was prepared to risk her life and put herself in danger daily to liberate her country moved me greatly and I have unreserved admiration for what she and others accomplished under the most arduous conditions.
Josefine’s family, the Lobniks, were all members of the partisans. Her older sister, Anica, held a senior role as liaison officer and was captured and tortured by the Nazis. Her younger brother Roman suffered the same fate and was seriously wounded twice in partisan battles against the Germans. Her other brother, Leopold, was arrested for subversion and sent to Flossenbürg and then Dachau. Incredibly, he survived.
After a few drinks, Bruce would talk more openly about what he had been through than Josefine ever would. His two best friends were killed on the same day at Sidi Rezegh and he would often become teary-eyed when he talked about the war.
I told them on many occasions that their story deserved to be told but they always brushed it off as though there was nothing special about how they met and what they had done to survive in Nazi-occupied Slovenia. I finally decided a couple of years ago that if I didn’t record the story now it would be never be told so set about researching and writing The Note Through the Wire.
Stories of resistance and the triumph of courage, bravery and hope over adversity and tyranny have always inspired me. Here are a few that I would recommend.
Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson (On Sale: 01/05/2021)
Set in 1943 in Italy, Antonina Mazin, a Jew living under the threat of imprisonment and deportation, is forced to flee Venice and find refuge in the countryside with a man she barely knows. She doesn’t adapt well to country life at first—the locals don’t trust the new arrival from the city and a suspicious Nazi official is certain she has something to hide— and is determined to find what it is.
Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig (On Sale: 03/02/2021)
With graphic descriptions of life in First World War France, Lauren Willig has woven a breathtaking tale of hope, survival—and betrayal. When Kate Moran, a recent graduate, is persuaded to join a group of volunteers traveling to France to provide aid to its beleaguered citizens, she has no idea of the challenges and obstacles she will have to overcome.
Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson (08/03/2021)
Based on the inspiring true story of the only female all-Black U.S. battalion to serve in WWII, two women have to fight bureaucracy and prejudice in order to fight the war they signed up for. A beautifully written, insightful portrayal of wartime life for black female officers in a white, male-dominated army command.
Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks (On Sale: 04/14/2020)
A brutal murder outside Jane Prescott’s childhood home—now a women’s refuge run by her uncle—disrupts her plans for a one-week break from her role as a lady’s maid and leads her on a quest to unmask the killer, in the process forcing her to confront her own demons. Mariah Fredericks draws you into this story, with colorful descriptions of New York’s high society in the early 1900s, and never lets you go.
The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi (On Sale: 06/22/2021)
Lies, deception and the privileges of class and power lay at the heart of Alka Joshi’s sequel to The Henna Artist. After a tragic accident on the opening night of the new cinema at Jaipur’s Royal Palace—a balcony collapsed—blame is conveniently deflected to protect a scandalous secret. A young Palace apprentice—a former street urchin—is determined to uncover the truth.
The Yellow Wife by Sedeqa Johnson (On Sale: 01/12/2021)
A young slave expecting freedom on her 18th birthday, Pheby Delores Brown is instead sent to the Devil’s Half Acre— one of the worst jails in Richmond Virginia—where beatings and torture are daily occurrences. Pheby needs all her courage and resourcefulness to outwit her sadistic jailer if she is to survive. Sedeqa Johnson tells this compassionate story without shying away from the harshness and brutality of life as a slave in the 19th century.
The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray (On Sale: 03/30/2021)
Spanning two centuries and three wars, this captivating and compelling epic tale tells the story of three remarkable women—guardians of Chateau Lafayette—who each created their own legacy based on courage, sacrifice and a sense of duty.