Book Title: Two Fatherlands
Series: The Reschen Valley Series (Part 4)
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Page Length: 636 Pages
@Archaeolibrary, @maryanneyarde, @ckalyna,
It's a dangerous time to be a dissident...
1938. Northern Italy. Since saving Angelo Grimani's life 18 years earlier, Katharina is grappling with how their lives have since been entwined. Construction on the Reschen Lake reservoir begins and the Reschen Valley community is torn apart into two fronts - those who want to stay no matter what comes, and those who hold out hope that Hitler will bring Tyrol back into the fold.
Back in Bolzano, Angelo finds one fascist politician who may have the power to help Katharina and her community, but there is a group of corrupt players eager to have a piece of him. When they realise that Angelo and Katharina are joining forces, they turn to a strategy of conquering and dividing to weaken both the community and Angelo's efforts.
Meanwhile, the daughter Angelo shares with Katharina - Annamarie - has fled to Austria to pursue her acting career but the past she is running away from lands her directly into the arms of a new adversary: the Nazis. She goes as far as Berlin, and as far as Goebbels, to pursue her dreams, only to realise that Germany is darker than any place she's been before.
Angelo puts aside his prejudices and seeks alliances with old enemies; Katharina finds ingenious ways to preserve what is left of her community, and Annamarie wrests herself from the black forces of Nazism with plans to return home. But when Hitler and Mussolini present the Tyroleans with “The Option”, the residents are forced to choose between Italian and German nationhood with no guarantee that they will be able to stay in Tyrol at all!
Out of the ruins of war, will they be able to find their way back to one another and pick up the pieces?
This blockbuster finale will keep readers glued to the pages. Early readers are calling it, "...engrossing", "...enlightening" and "...both a heartbreaking and uplifting end to this incredible series!"
Innsbruck, June 1938
After paying the utility bills, the grocery money she owed Lisi, and the rent, Annamarie was left with exactly eight Reichsmark to her name until the following month, and this paired with the bad news that Herr Baumgärtner would be cutting her hours by half. Twelve hours a week was going to get her nowhere. She inserted the key into the apartment door, ready to crawl into bed and bury herself beneath the blankets, but the apartment was already unlocked.
Lisi stood in the kitchen doorway as Annamarie walked in. “Franz is here.”
Annamarie slumped against the door. “I just want to go to bed.”
“Franz,” Lisi called back into the kitchen. “Annamarie’s home.”
A chair slid across the linoleum floor, and Franz rose with his Hitler salute when Annamarie came in. He was dressed in the brown uniform. She wondered whether this was what every young man between Germany and Italy did these days. Not Sepp though. Not the barkeep at the Iron Rooster. So maybe not everyone, but just about.
Lisi popped open a bottle of Sekt. “We’re celebrating.”
“Are we?” Annamarie sank onto one of the seats.
Lisi poured wine into the teacup Annamarie had left on the kitchen counter that morning. She seemed to enjoy being uncouth—something that must have occurred the moment she broke out of the von Brandts’ cocooned and blue-blooded world.
“Franz has quite some news,” Lisi said.
“That’s right,” Franz said. “I’ve joined the SA and have been assigned to security detail for Gauleiter Hofer. He’s arriving next week.”
Annamarie did not know who that was and shrugged, unimpressed.
Franz narrowed his eyes. “Gauleiter Hofer? He’s responsible for all of Tyrol and Vorarlberg.”
“I guess that’s a big deal to you,” Annamarie said. “Congratulations.” She took a sip of the wine, but it tasted flat. Her bedroom was just around the corner, just a few steps away. Was he finished with his bragging yet?
“There’s something else.” Lisi tipped her head at her brother.
Franz got his footing beneath him again, cleared his throat, and said lightly, “I’m engaged.”
Annamarie looked up from her cup. “Engaged?” A few months ago, when she’d first met the von Brandts at the Iron Rooster, Franz had been flirting with her, his hands all over her, and now he was engaged? She hadn’t even known he was seriously seeing anyone.
“Margit Rainer.” Franz positioned his chair to face Annamarie. “I’d like you to meet her.”
“Me? What in heaven’s for?”
“Because she might have a job for you.”
“What does she do?”
“She’s head of the Innsbruck division of the BDM.”
Annamarie frowned. “The BDM?”
“Bund Deutscher Mädel. It’s the League of German Girls, like the Hitler Jugend but, you know, for girls.”
Annamarie scoffed. “I’m nineteen. Hardly a girl any longer.”
Lisi cleared her throat and gave her a look.
“Fine. Seventeen.” Annamarie was indignant. “And even so, too old to be marching around, doing gymnastics, and singing with a bunch of little girls. What could I possibly do for the BDM?” She regretted the question immediately.
Franz crossed his arms, looking satisfied. “Margit is heading the new Faith and Beauty Society. It’s for women ages seventeen to twenty-one years old, and the program will be better than a university education. You can take part in anything that interests you, in anything that you’re talented in.” He laughed a little and looked at them nervously. “Women with talents and strengths to help the German nation—that’s what the society will produce. Strong women with a purpose, with a role.”
It sounded more like a factory. Annamarie looked at Lisi with disbelief.
“Tell her what she’d be doing,” Lisi urged.
“Margit needs someone to set up and run the theatre and acting department.”
Lisi looked expectantly at Annamarie.
“Why don’t you do it?” Annamarie asked her.
Lisi scoffed. “Because I have a job—a good job—and I’ve outgrown all that.” She looked at Franz. “What? Stop that. I’m not interested.”
“What makes you think I would be?” Annamarie asked.
“Because,” Lisi sighed, “you have the experience with the, you know…” She waved a hand downwards. She was referring to Annamarie’s activities with the Fascist youth group in Bolzano.
Annamarie stood and dumped the wine down the sink, leaned against the counter, and faced her.
Lisi grabbed her by the wrist now. “This thing with the BDM is my idea. I thought you’d like being in charge—that’s the first thing. And the next thing, well… Go on, Franz. You tell her.”
Franz grinned. “Margit’s just returned from leadership training in Brunswick. She’s the district leader. Margit is recruiting section group leaders, for hire.”
“It’s a real job, Annamarie,” Lisi interrupted. “Group leaders get two hundred Reichsmark a month.”
Two hundred Reichsmark! Annamarie sat up straight and looked from Lisi to Franz and back to Lisi. Her mind reeled with the list of things she could afford with ten times her current salary. She could get out of here, for starters, and begin anew, get her stories straight, and maybe finally make some headway with the acting.
They were waiting for her, watching her, their eyes shining bright, as if listening in on Annamarie’s plans in her head.
“When can I meet her?” she asked.
ChrystynaLucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction. She has been a managing editor for a magazine publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has won several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamt she would when she was a child.
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