Monday 19th September
The Lighthouse Auditorium, Chapel Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4EG
Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same mansion block in London for decades. She leads a comfortable, quiet life, despite her dark and disturbing past. She doesn’t talk about her escape from Germany over seventy years before. She doesn’t talk about the post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn’t talk about her father, the commandant of one of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps.
Then, a young family moves into the apartment below her. In spite of herself, Gretel can’t help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. One night, she witnesses a violent argument between Henry’s mother and his domineering father, one that threatens Gretel’s hard-won, self-contained existence.
Gretel is faced with a chance to expiate her guilt, grief and remorse and act to save a young boy – for the second time in her life. But to do so, she will be forced to reveal her true identity to the world. Will she make a different choice this time, whatever the cost to herself?
‘When is a monster’s child culpable? Guilt and complicity are multifaceted. John Boyne is a maestro of historical fiction. You can’t prepare yourself for the magnitude and emotional impact of this powerful novel’ – John Irving
John Boyne is the author of thirteen novels for adults, six for younger readers and a collection of short stories. He has won three Irish Book Awards, along with a host of other international literary prizes.