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We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

An extraordinary debut novel, drawn from author’s family history of survival in the Nazi Holocaust.

Reading Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history … A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.
— Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

14 February 2017 / Hardback / Allison & Busby / £14.99 / fiction 

By the end of the Holocaust, 90 per cent of Poland’s three million Jews were annihilated; of the more than 30,000 Jews who lived in Radom, fewer than 300 survived.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

The Kurc family shouldn’t have survived the Holocaust. In the spring of 1939 three generations are living relatively normal lives in Poland, despite the hardships Jews face. When war breaks out and the family is cast to the wind, the five Kurc siblings do everything they can to find their way through a devastated continent to freedom.

Addy, a musician, charms his way into possession of a Brazilian visa and into the first class piano lounge on a ship full of refugees bound for Rio; Jakob marries the love of his life in an abandoned house to a soundtrack of air sirens; Mila hides her daughter in a Catholic convent outside of Warsaw, only to return weeks later to find the convent in ruins; Genek endures a brutal winter in a Siberian gulag before embarking with his wife and newborn son on a yearlong exodus through Persia to fight for the Allies; and Halina attempts to flee over the Austrian Alps on foot – while pregnant. All this, across continents and often in ignorance as to the fate of the rest of their family, while the wheels of war turn.

We Were the Lucky Ones is a profoundly moving and memorable novel, and a gripping tale of bravery, based on the author’s family experiences.  It takes you on a journey through unimaginable darkness to a place of hope/ 

When Georgia Hunter was fifteen years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors. We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. She lives in Connecticut, USA, and is available for interview and to write features.

Talking points

Discovering her Polish / Jewish heritage, aged 15

Growing up, while Georgia was close to her grandparents, she had no idea she was a quarter Jewish, or that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors - it wasn’t a big secret, just a piece of her grandfather’s past he had chosen to put behind him.

 At a family reunion in 2000 she discovered the greater Kurc family saga.  Snippets of stories overheard include: a sister who walked over the Austrian Alps, pregnant; a cousin born in the Siberian gulag, where it was so cold his eyes would freeze shut in the mornings and his mother had to use the warmth of her breast milk to coax them open; a harrowing mother-daughter escape from the Radom ghetto; a secret wedding in a blacked-out house in Lvov.

Travelling through Europe, tracing her family’s footsteps

Georgia followed in the Kurc family’s footsteps, travelling the route her family travelled, through Poland, Austria, Italy, and Brazil.  Some of the most moving moments were wandering the streets of Radom, where she discovered a mezuzah - one of only 2 remaining - in the doorway to their old apartment building, and standing with her son on the train platform in Bari, where several relatives reunited after the war.

Researching her family story

The story came together through travel, extensive interviews and outside research, with key findings through the Shoah Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stamford and the UK Ministry of Defence.

Fact to fiction

While the bones of the story are all true (e.g., who was where, when), Georgia’s goal in writing We Were the Lucky Ones was to put readers in the shoes of her relatives, which is why she chose to write the novel in the present tense - to help the story feel relevant, visceral, memorable.  When she finally allowed herself to fictionalize the details it helped to bring the story closer to the truth.

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The Liberation by Kate Furnivall

Paperback original / Simon & Schuster / £7.99 / 3 November 2016

The Liberation by Kate Furnivall

Author of internationally bestselling The Russian Concubine returns with an unforgettably powerful story of love, loss and the long shadow of war.

‘Set in Sorrento and Naples this is a thrilling roller-coaster of a read, seductive, mysterious and edgy. I LOVED it’  Dinah Jefferies

The Liberation is set in Italy in 1945 as British and American troops attempt to bring order to the devastated country and Italy’s population fights to survive. Caterina Lombardi is desperate – her father is dead, her mother has disappeared and her brother is being drawn towards danger. One morning, among the ruins of the bombed Naples streets, Caterina is forced to go to extreme lengths to protect her own life and in doing so forges a future in which she must clear her father's name. An Allied Army officer accuses him of treason and Caterina discovers a plot against her family. Who can she trust and who is the real enemy now? And will the secrets of the past be her downfall?

Detailed research and wonderfully drawn characters make this a powerful, gripping read.

Kate Furnivall is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller The Russian Concubine. She lives in Devon.

Praise for Kate Furnivall

  • ‘Wonderful . . . hugely ambitious and atmospheric’ Kate Mosse 
  • ‘The definition of a terrifically well-written page-turner’ Dinah Jefferies
  •  ‘A thrilling plot ... Fast-paced with a sinister edge.’ Times 
  • ‘Gripping . . . poignant, beautifully written ...will capture the reader to the last’ Sun 
  • ‘Truly captivating’ Elle  
  • ‘Perfect escapist reading’ Marie Claire  
  • ‘An achingly beautiful epic’ New Woman
  • ‘A rollicking good read’ The Daily Telegraph 
  • ‘Breathtakingly good’ Marie Claire  

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