By John Boyne
November 2, 2022
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 their son, 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 Gretal’s hard-won, self-contained existence.
Gretal is faced with a change 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 to cost to herself?