Saga Saturday - Welcome saga author Sharon Maas....

The Violin Maker’s Daughter is a coming-of-age story of a young girl confronted with the vicious reality of the Second World War. It is set mostly in Alsace, a French province on the border to Germany which, annexed by the Third Reich at the start of the Second World War, became the very last part of France to be liberated. In fact, the final German attack for the possession of Alsace was so powerful, so savage, it could all have ended badly for the Allies—so determined was Hitler to regain the province he considered part of Germany.  It’s here that I chose to begin my story; to launch my main character on a perilous journey that will turn her world upside-down, and force her to grow from a frightened girl into a brave, strong woman.

The story centres on Sarah, an 18-year-old Jewish girl who must flee her home and family to find safety in France. Sarah has been protected and sheltered all her life and has practically no experience of the world—she is the very antithesis of the street-wise, kick-ass heroine so popular today, as she has almost never left the safety of her home. Most of all, she does not understand people. She does not know whom to trust and whom not to—everyone is black-or-white, French good, German bad. As a result, she makes one crucial and shocking mistake; a blunder that not only jeopardises the Resistance movement but risks the capture and execution of Wehrmacht deserter Ralf, the love of her young life.

But Sarah is a quick learner and the enormity of this mistake shakes her into full awareness and spurs her into action. She must atone for what she has done, and this means summoning all her strength and courage: to train as a spy and enter Germany on a perilous mission. Doing so, she can play a part in the final victory of the Allies.

Alsace today is a charming province: green, rolling hills covered in vineyards, picturesque villages out of a Grimm’s fairy-tale.  It’s a part of France very close to my heart, as a good friend of mine lived there until she died, aged 102, and I visited her often when I was studying in Freiburg, a charming German town close to the border.

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Sharon Maas is the author of eight novels of historical fiction. She has lived in Germany for 43 years. She now lives in Ireland.


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