It is 1942 in Oslo, two years into the German occupation of World War II. Maria and her three daughters are used to coping with the hardships of war, but when Maria’s husband leaves her for another woman and a German officer is billeted to their home, their troubles are only just beginning. Maria and her daughters must stop fighting with each other and find a way to survive through grief, dread and fear.
I was inspired to write this book by my mother, Brit Maja Holmsen. She was eight years old when the Nazis marched into Oslo, her home town. I have been brought up with many stories from her childhood, some funny and some very sad. She was an artist and a very powerful and magnetic character. Like most of us she had her flaws and I wanted to understand her childhood and understand her in more depth. I also wanted to feel closer to my Norwegian roots.
I did a great deal of research for this book, including visits to the Resistance Museum in Oslo and Falstad Museum in Ekne, near Levanger in the North of Norway. The courage of the Norwegian people recorded here was an inspiration. To me, even surviving in these circumstances is a feat of courage and I wanted to show this ‘everyday heroism’ in my book, but also make my characters real, and of course flawed. My aim is to bring the war years in Oslo, as experienced by Maria and her three daughters, to life. The story and characters, however, are fictional, and are not true to any real people.
I am a retired psychiatrist living in Bristol with my husband and elkhound. My two children keep in close touch and I now have the added privilege of a two-year old grandchild. I keep busy with a combination of voluntary work, baby-sitting, dog walking, listening to podcasts, and writing. I am obsessed with the news and have a horrified fascination with the current American president.
After being totally immersed in working as a psychiatrist for the NHS and bringing up two children, I finally came up for air when I retired. I enlisted for a Creative Writing course with the Open University and knew then that I was going to write a novel inspired by my mother’s life.
I hope you enjoy my book. If you do, I am sure you will feel the same admiration for the survivors of the war that I do.