An unforgettable tale of what we owe to those we love, and those we have left behind
In 1927, as Natalia Faber travels from Berlin to Prague with her mother, their train is delayed in Saxon Switzerland. In the brief time the train is idle, Natalia learns the truth about her father and meets a remarkable woman named Dr. Magdalena Schaefferová, whose family will become a significant part of her future.
Shaken by these events, Natalia arrives at a spa on the shore of Lake Hevíz in Hungary. Here, she meets the journalist and writer Miklós Count Andorján. In time, they will marry, and Natalia will devote herself to life on a rural estate in Hungary.
When war breaks out in Europe, Natalia loses contact with Miklós. She believes they are to meet in Prague, a city under Nazi occupation. She sets up shop as a fortune teller with a pack of Tarot cards. In this guise, she meets Magdalena Schaefferová’s young daughter, Anna. Accused by the Nazis of spying, Natalia is sent to a concentration camp. In April 1945, Natalia and Anna are reunited, and with courage and determination, find the strength to begin again in a changed world.
“Mesmerizing . . . [Windley’s] characters are Chekhovian idealists and dreamers, refugees from the counterculture or from broken homes, actual and psychological orphans trying to reform themselves into new kinds of families . . . [and] what elevates [Windley] as a writer is her struggle to find a meaning in [those] characters’ fates, to discover their moral essence and, sometimes, even a magical truth.”
"Its tale of a comfortable life upended by extraordinary circumstances is sure to resonate now more than ever.”
“[Home Schooling] is as delicate as it is intelligent. . . . An exceptional collection of beautiful words and resonant insights. Every single story is worthy of reading, and once read, returned to, whether for ambience or intelligence of thought or language. Windley’s gift with narrative and images gives truly inspired meaning to the phrase ‘creative writing.’”
“Carol Windley’s writing has a unique power, a perfect combination of delicacy, intensity and fearless imagination.”
“[An] elegant collection . . . Windley’s writing is calm and at times hypnotic, and her prose rhythms paint pictures of their own; she knows how to create the restful quiet of gentle waves breaking on a beach. And her images, often occurring in the context of dreams, can be startlingly lovely.”
“Beautiful, haunting stories—intelligent, heartfelt, and true.”
“Language is wielded like a slender blade in these stories by the Canadian author Carol Windley, swiftly piercing a perception and pinning it to the page.”
“[Carol Windley’s] tales emit moments of sudden radiance that unmask narrative mysteries while wrapping them ever more tightly around their outcomes. . . . [A] book of pure magic.”
“Windley’s characters in Home Schooling are burdened and shaped by their secrets, so much so that they often fail to travel well through daily life. The landscape of the Northwest where Windley lives—that transparent air and those watchful dark trees—provides the perfect setting for these incandescent stories . . . Here, even the mystery of life’s slow, sure passing provides action to move a plot forward.”
“Carol Windley’s short stories are impossible to put down. The scope of the subject matter is riveting: the world of the artist, the complexities of family relationships, and the innocence of childhood are written with a sure and deft hand. The characters are distinct and unforgettable, drawn with deep emotional roots, while the places they inhabit are described with wonder and truth. Moment by moment, Ms. Windley has written a masterful collection.”
Praise for Home Schooling:
“Compelling, thought-provoking, emotionally rich . . . A powerful illustration of the storyteller’s art.”
“The families in Carol Windley’s remarkable story collection are as unsettled and moody as the wind-blasted landscape that shelters and confounds them. . . . [Windley] is deeply in tune with her characters, their dilemmas, their petulance, and the peculiar grace that allows them to accept, even sometimes to applaud, how far they’ve come . . . A haunting book that deserves our attention.”
“[An] accomplished story collection . . . Windley’s cagey moments of conflict deftly illuminate her narrators’ capacities for both pettiness and grace . . . [Written] with a fast pace and an eye for fresh details that make her efficient, achingly human dramas absorbing and sympathetic.”
"A compelling historical novel that is well worth reading."
“Home Schooling is a beautiful collection, full of sensitivity and utterly devoid of slick sentimentality. The stories are painstakingly realistic, conveying many facets of the family experience. . . . Windley’s fluid yet precise style captures the essence of the characters and their situations with immense grace.”
“Moving back and forth in time, Windley zeros in on life-changing moments witnessed in different ways, as if seen through different lenses. A provocative collection from a writer in complete sync with her characters.”