Berlin, 1989. As the wall between East and West falls, Miriam Winter cares for her dying father, Henryk. When he cries out for someone named Frieda – and Miriam discovers an Auschwitz tattoo hidden under his watch strap – Henryk’s secret history begins to unravel.
Searching for more clues of her father’s past, Miriam finds an inmate uniform from the Ravensbrück women’s camp concealed among her mother’s things. Within its seams are dozens of letters to Henryk written by Frieda. The letters reveal the disturbing truth about the ‘Rabbit Girls’, young women experimented on at the camp. And amid their tales of sacrifice and endurance, Miriam pieces together a love story that has been hidden away in Henryk’s heart for almost fifty years.
Inspired by these extraordinary women, Miriam strives to break through the walls she has built around herself. Because even in the darkest of times, hope can survive.
From the editor:
It is rare to find a book that completely stops me in my tracks, that has me reading far too long into the night, and, on reaching the last page, has me turning hurriedly back to page one to savour it all over again. But this is exactly what happened when The Rabbit Girls landed on my desk.
At the start of the novel we meet Miriam, a young woman who has escaped a tortured relationship and is caring for her dying father, Henryk, against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As Miriam sorts through her father’s belongings, she discovers dozens of letters written by a woman named Frieda, a prisoner at the Ravensbrück labour camp during World War II. At the same time, she discovers that her father bears an Auschwitz inmate tattoo on his arm. Everything that Miriam knows about her parents’ past is immediately thrown into doubt. And so, as Miriam begins to rebuild her own life, she also begins piecing together a love story that has remained locked in Henryk’s heart for more than forty years.
What I love most about The Rabbit Girls is its overriding message of hope surviving the darkest of times, of solidarity and strength across divides, and of love conquering all. A message as important today as it was when Henryk and Frieda made the greatest of sacrifices. I hope that it is a story you will treasure.
Audible’s Debut of the Year 2019
Once the Audible team had read Anna Ellory’s debut novel The Rabbit Girls there was no question that this was a story we wanted to share with members. Dramatic, heart-breaking and beautifully written; the power of the story has only been heightened by Gemma Arterton and Simon Callow’s astounding narration.
We follow Miriam in a dual narrative as she learns more about the ‘Frieda’ her father calls out for and her parents’ war-time love story, alongside the pain and terror Miriam herself faces daily at the hands of her abusive husband. Entwined in the sadness of both stories are glimmers of hope, sisterly solidarity and friendship.