Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…
His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.
Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.
Alfred did what he always did when overpowered by feelings his childish spirit couldn’t comprehend. He hid. He ran into the forest that began just behind the cowshed, picked his way through bushes and brambles and thousand-year-old tree roots, until he was so far inside the forest that the fading sunlight came through in dapples of emerald and gold. He found a huge ash tree, whose trunk had split into two just a metre above the ground, and climbed into the age-old nook carved out in the fork of the trunk. He pulled his dirty knees to his chest and rested his chin there. The forest air was warm and drowsy and smelt of dusk and moss. Alfred began to feel sleepy and he closed his eyes.
Then he heard a voice. It was a whisper –hissskkss, shhhhts, psstss – coming from somewhere above him to the left. Alfred had spent enough of his young life in the forest to know that this was no bird or other creature, or any other sound the windless forest could produce. It was a human voice, a woman’s voice. It was too low for him to make out the words, but something in the inflection made him recognise it was a question. A moment later, another voice, slightly to the right. And although this too was a whisper, or perhaps more of a sigh, he could tell that this was a different voice and that it was answering the first.
Thank you, Juliet Conlin and Love Books Group
About the author
Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).