Fleeing Stalin's advance into Lithuania, shaken by communism and war, four refugees end up in Toronto in 1949. Vytas, a young doctor who gets into medical school by saving a child's life, is haunted by a lost love. Maryte, a seamstress whose affair with a German officer saved her half-witted brother, struggles to take care of him. Justine, a concert pianist raped during the war, strives to regain her ability to make music. Father Geras, an illegitimate child steered into the priesthood by family, finds purpose in guiding his exiled people. Trying to resume normal lives, longing for their country's freedom, they wait to go home.
Irene Guilford is the author of a novel, The Embrace (Guernica 1999), and the editor of Alistair MacLeod: Essays on His Works (Guernica 2001). Her writing has been anthologized, translated into Lithuanian, and shortlisted for the CBC Literary Competition and the Event Creative Non-Fiction Contest. She lives in Toronto
This exquisite novel captures the complex and touching successes and failures of a generation of postwar immigrants learning to leave the past behind and start new lives. They meet kindness and cruelty, good luck and bad, and adapt as best they can. The lovely, restrained prose reminded me at moments of Colm Toibin, and Samantha Harvey. This is a novel that contains a rare combination of intelligence and heart. I couldn't put it down. - Antanas Sileika, author of Underground