The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes

The Prisoner's Wife

The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.1 MB

Their love is a death sentence. But can it keep them alive?

Czechoslovakia, 1944. In the dead of night, a farm girl and a British soldier creep through abandoned villages. Secretly married and on the run, Bill and Izabela are searching for Izabela’s brother and father, who are fighting for the Czech resistance. They know their luck will not last.

Captured by the German army, it seems they must be separated – but they have prepared for this moment. By cutting her hair and pretending to be mute, Izabela successfully disguises herself as a British soldier. Together, they face the terrible conditions of a POW camp, reliant on the help of their fellow POWs to maintain their fragile deception.

Their situation is beyond dangerous. If Izabela is discovered, she and Bill – and all the men who helped them – will face lethal consequences.

A novel set in war-torn Czechoslovakia amid the extreme privations of a prisoner of war camp, based on a true story of passion, heroism and a love that transcends overwhelming odds.

“They’ll do,” she said, and clacked across the yard in her clogs to fetch tools from the stable. The prisoners were looking around them, taking everything in: the house, stables, barn and hay barn, which formed a tight, enclosed square around our courtyard. Perhaps they were looking for ways they might escape. Their gazes locked on me as I approached. When I stared back at them, their eyes dropped to the ground or skittered onto something neutral in the yard—the water pump, the old tin bath, our bright red roof tiles. They knew the guard was watching them closely. But Bill continued to regard me in a clear, appraising way, and I raised my chin and looked back. It wasn’t love at first sight, or even lust, but there was a something, a metallic frisson in the air, a kind of challenge thrown out and returned. Maybe a kind of recognition.

The Oily Captain made small talk with my mother as she handed out the scythes, rakes and pitchforks, but the guard kept his rifle trained on the young men, who had just been issued tools they could use as weapons. He cleared his throat and spoke to the prisoners in English. “Don’t any of you boys try anything stupid. Don’t forget I was in the trenches, and I have many scores to settle.”

They nodded, and I filed away the information that the old guard spoke excellent English.

My mother opened the hay barn door and led the way through it and out into the fields. I brought up the rear. For a few steps, the Oily Captain was lolloping beside her in his stiff-legged way, trying to finish the conversation as she strode off. I couldn’t help smiling, and again I caught Bill’s eye and saw both amusement and approval of my mother. His face seemed to light up when he smiled. The Oily Captain must have realized he was being made a fool of because he suddenly stopped, clicked his heels and wished her a very good day. She turned and politely thanked him for providing her with help on the farm. He looked very pleased with himself as he marched away to his car.

At the edge of the first field, my mother demonstrated the correct use of a scythe. Two men hardly watched her at all, but Bill paid keen interest, mirroring the movements she made. I guessed he was a city boy, and this was new to him. She made them practice until she was satisfied that they would do a good job. The two who hadn’t been watching had obviously harvested plenty of fields before, but Bill and his friend made several blundering strokes before either managed to cut anything. I felt hot with embarrassment for them, but my mother was patient and stood behind Bill, lowering his right elbow to the correct position until he swished cleanly through the stalks and looked up to me in delight and triumph. I couldn’t help smiling back.

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