Through elderly writer, Steponas, we meet two women. Both have led incredibly dreadful lives - one because of her religious beliefs, the other because of an abusive husband compounded by extreme poverty. Their experiences give Steponas the inspiration to write about his own terrible secret, one that he has kept hidden in the chambers of his heart for many years. You need to stay awake and on track with this novel. It begins slowly but persevere and don't have any illusion that the story will 'lighten' as it progresses. It doesn't. The setting of Lithuania and the ghettos of Poland make for a sad read but you may enjoy this if you have a passing interest in the history of the war and its effect on those who lived through it.
Two young German soldiers stopped a mother in the street. An argument started. Jerzy wanted to step forward and intervene then. He was boiling. I help him back. You will cause more trouble than good, I told him. I managed to cool him. And then one of the soldiers grabbed the young mother by the hair and dragged her to the ground. Marcin Lunski demonstrated, grabbing the air in his fist, twisting and pulling it down. He wiped his eyes. As she fell, the baby dropped from her grasp. It was swaddled and bounced on the pavement. Rolled. The young girl let out a scream that stopped my heart. She leapt forward to grab it, but the soldier yanked her back by the hair while the other soldier kicked the bundled baby out of reach of her fingertips. He paused again. They laughed.