By Curt and Ana Warner with Dave Boling
From a forgotten moment in history comes an inspiring novel about finding strength and courage in the most unimaginable places.
In turn-of-the-century South Africa, fourteen-year-old Lettie, her younger brother, and her mother are Dutch Afrikaner settlers who have been taken from their farm by British soldiers and are being held in a concentration camp. It is early in the Boer War, and Lettie’s father, grandfather, and brother are off fighting the British as thousands of Afrikaner women and children are detained. The camps are cramped and disease ridden; the threat of illness and starvation are ever present. Determined to dictate their own fate, Lettie and her family give each other strength and hope as they fight to survive amid increasingly dire conditions.
Brave and defiant, Lettie finds comfort in memories of stargazing with her grandfather, in her plan to be a writer, and in surprising new friendships that will both nourish and challenge her. A beautiful testament to love, family, and sheer force of will, The Lost History of Stars was inspired by Dave Boling’s grandfather’s own experience as a soldier during the Boer War. Lettie is a figure of abiding grace, and her story is richly drawn and impossible to forget.
From the publisher: While the vastly outnumbered Boer commandos fight in the field, half a million British soldiers torch a flaming path across the South African veld. As they go, the British imprison thousands of displaced Boer families, including Aletta Venter's, and cast them into newly devised 'concentration camps'.
In a crowded tent with her mother and siblings, Aletta finds ways to cope with the confinement, deprivation and loss, but searches for the rarest of comforts - a bit of adolescent normalcy, perhaps even the spark of forbidden romance. Her weapon of choice in this personal battle: A young girl's powerful sense of hope.
A deeply moving, intimate portrait of family, friendship and love, set against the backdrop?of the Second Boer War at the turn of the twentieth century, The Undesirables (the British term for those who refused to surrender) is the heart-rending yet life-affirming new novel from the top ten bestselling author of Guernica, winner of the Richard & Judy Summer Read.
A couple quick blurbs:
--Another triumph from Dave Boling (Daily Mail)
--This enthralling novel takes us straight to the nub of the second Boer War . . . it captures with raw vividness the emotions stirred by war and loss. The narrator's persona is sensitively crafted as a voice of defiance in the face of imprisonment, while struggling to comprehend the cultural clashes and contradictory personalities. (The Lady Magazine)
Calling to mind such timeless war-and-love classics as Corelli's Mandolin and The English Patient, Guernica is a transporting novel that thrums with the power of storytelling and is peopled with characters driven by grit and heart.
In 1935, Miguel Navarro finds himself in conflict with the Spanish Civil Guard, and flees the Basque fishing village of Lekeitio to make a new start in Guernica, the center of Basque culture and tradition. In the midst of this isolated bastion of democratic values, Miguel finds more than a new life—he finds someone to live for. Miren Ansotegui is a charismatic and graceful dancer who has her pick of the bachelors in Guernica, but focuses only on the charming and mysterious Miguel. The two discover a love that war and tragedy can not destroy.
History and fiction merge seamlessly in this beautiful novel about the resilience of family, love, and tradition in the face of hardship.
The bombing of Guernica was a devastating experiment in total warfare by the German Luftwaffe in the run-up to World War II. For the Basques, it was an attack on the soul of their ancient nation; for the world, it was an unprecedented crime against humanity. In his first novel, Boling reintroduces the event and paints his own picture of a people so strong, vibrant, and proud that they are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their values, their country, and their loved ones.
DAVE BOLING on the writing of “Guernica”
Fresh out of college, I met and married a lovely Basque girl whose grandparents had come from Biscaya to herd sheep in the mountains of the American West. They filled me with Basque foods, got me drunk on their wines, and tried to teach me their dances. They showed me the Basques’ characteristically fierce loyalty to their families and heritage. From them I learned of the decades-long oppression of their culture by the Franco regime. And from them I also heard of the bombing of Guernica.
As the world grew increasingly familiar with acts of terrorism against defenseless civilians, I was struck how the 1937 bombing of the historic town of Guernica had gone unrecognized as an early moment in the history of such attacks. It seemed that people in America were more aware of Picasso’s famed mural than the atrocity that spawned the painting. By fictionalizing the event, I hoped to elevate awareness of the tragedy, and also to create characters who were good and noble people coping with traumatic circumstances in inspirational ways.
As I researched the bombing, I read stories of a number of Guernica victims who appeared at hospitals with strange symptoms: Their hands were mutilated. The injuries weren't from bombing or burning, but from their insistence on digging barehanded through jagged rubble -- until the flesh tore from their bones – in the single-minded attempt to save their loved ones.
I thought immediately that those were the kind of passionate and determined people around whom I could build a novel, especially a story whose core explores the deep feelings one has for a spouse, for families, and for their country. I hoped that their experiences could be useful to those dealing with the aftermath of such attacks to this day.