August 1939. On her summer break from her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, the exquisitely talented young South African pianist, Olda Mehr, and her parents, leave London to visit relatives in Eastern Europe. A dreamy holiday descends into nightmare when Germany invades Poland, and the Mehrs find themselves, as Jews, caught up in Hitler’s Holocaust. For Olda, Gestapo torture and the threat of the gas chamber are relieved by letters from her boyfriend, the artist-musician-doctor, Bennie Hermer, now a captain in the South African army fighting in North Africa. After the Allied disaster at Tobruk, Ben is imprisoned in the dusty, dysentery-ridden POW camp at Benghazi. Via infrequent Red Cross messages the couple keep their love, and themselves, alive, until extraordinary daring on both their parts leads to a denouement so incredible that Time Magazine would write it up within days, calling it: ‘Love, Believe it or not’. This extraordinary and moving story brings to life the events of World War II, showing how ordinary people rise to the challenge of extraordinary times.
Cape Town - David Philip Publishers, 2003
The Piano War
- Nominated for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (“Africa’s Man Booker”)
- Nominated for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award