It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan.
About the Author
Mark Sullivan is the acclaimed author of eighteen novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Private series, which he writes with James Patterson. Mark has received numerous awards for his writing, including the WHSmith Fresh Talent Award, and his works have been named a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year.
He grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in English before working as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Upon his return to the United States, he earned a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and began a career in investigative journalism. An avid skier and adventurer, he lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana, where he remains grateful for the miracle of every moment.
About the book
From the author of the #1 bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a new historical novel inspired by one family’s incredible story of daring, survival, and triumph.
In late March 1944, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet bear’s intrusion and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the wolves—murderous Nazi officers who have pledged to protect “pure-blood” Germans?
The Martels are one of many families of German heritage whose ancestors have farmed in Ukraine for more than a century. But after already living under Stalin’s horrifying regime, Emil and Adeline decide they must run in retreat from their land with the wolves they despise to escape the Soviets and go in search of freedom.
Caught between two warring forces and overcoming horrific trials to pursue their hope of immigrating to the West, the Martels’ story is a brutal, complex, and ultimately triumphant tale that illuminates the extraordinary power of love, faith, and one family’s incredible will to survive and see their dreams realized.
Stuck between two bad situations it’s only common sense that a family pick the lesser evil to try and save themselves, even if that lesser one was destined to become the face of the worst crimes of the 20th century, and that support was offered to the Martel family because they counted as pure-blood Germans.
The family flees the approaching Russian army, and the inevitable fates that await them. Emil and Adeline become separated, their paths define them individually and in Emil’s case completely transforms him. They have to find the strength on their own knowing they will probably never see each other again.
I found it both fascinating and heartwarming the way the sons looked with such an intensity for the reason for the transformation of Emil. Seeing the historical evidence of the horrors he went through wasn’t enough to explain why he would be one man going in and another coming out. Knowing that his endurance and the emotional change in him was driven by proof of goodness in humanity in the form of a person, is perhaps easier to accept because then they know he wasn’t alone.
Much like the story of Pino Lella the story of the Martel family is one that has been sucked up and swallowed by the passing of time. Stories like this aren’t even footnotes in history, often because the greater events tend to be narrated and written, as opposed to the fates of individuals and their families. In this specific scenario a lot of the historical events surrounding WW2 and the Holocaust fade into the background, which doesn’t mean they are of less historical importance, it’s because the severity of the atrocities tend to overshadow everything else. It’s directly linked to the efficiency, the mass planning and execution with which the Nazi regime perpetrated the crimes.
The history and tales of what is referred to as Schwarzmeerdeutsche, a regional group of ethnic Germans who fall under the description of Russlanddeutsche – ethnic Germans who migrated and settled in Russia, are more likely to remain in obscurity because of their ethnicity. In fact it’s a common denominator regardless of where Germans end up and have migrated to and from. The Nazi regime has relegated all Germans to this – a status of less important than, due to their ethnicity.
Sullivan writes beautifully and absolutely does due diligence when researching and trying to give closure to the Martel family, and bringing all the woven threads to a close. It’s a story, historical fiction inspired by facts and truth.