Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours and FMcM Associates for the invitation to read and review The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan for the blog tour.
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.
- Publisher : Lake Union Publishing (4 May 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 457 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1503958744
- ISBN-13 : 978-1503958746
This is the first book I’ve read by Mark Sullivan and I’m looking forward to reading more of his books in the future. I’ve read many historical fiction books over the past few years and this is one of the best, based on a true story about a family fleeing Stalin and heading West towards the end of World War 2.
The book moves backwards and forwards in time as Emil and Adeline flee with their boys and other family members, whilst remembering how they met, the previous hardships they had endured and secrets they wanted to forget. Their dream is to find a Green Valley in the west that will be safe.
This book is based on a part of history I wasn’t aware of, how the Germans tried to fill their cities with German families who had moved years ago to the Ukraine. They were eager to leave the Russian communists behind, who hated their German heritage, but was following the Nazi Germans to ‘safety’ going to be any better?
The story evolves, as the family travel west towards Germany, to help provide labour for the farms, to feed the Germans. This initial journey was horrific in places but not as bad as the one Emil then suffered at the hands of the Russians, who sent him to a prison camp to rebuild a town damaged by the Germans.
What shines through this story, is the love Emil and Adeline have for each other and how their determination to look after their boys keeps them going, even in the bleakest of times. To have to flee their homes, cope with years of food shortages and little heating, and a lack of medical care repeatedly shows how resilient they had to be. This is a book that should be read in secondary schools, to teach our young people about how Europe was devastated by the battles and the inhumanity of man.
This emotional story about the Martel’s will stay with me for a long time, and I’m pleased that Mark Sullivan has shared information about what happened after the war years, and how he travelled to visit some of the places that are important to the story at the end of the book.
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.