BOOK CLUB: The Survivors

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Author: Kate Furnivall
ISBN: 978-1-4711-7228-1
RRP: $32.99
Publication Date: 1 October 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Kate Furnivall is an accomplished historical author penning tales of strong heroines overcoming hardships we couldn’t begin to imagine. I have only read one of her backlist, The Liberation, which shares a similar cover image and time period.

The Survivors is another story told in the aftermath of WWII, this one set in Germany. Klara and her daughter Alicja have been trudging for weeks towards the Graufield Displaced Persons camp. Finally they have a semblance of safety, along with 3,200 others in cramped, dirty and dangerous conditions. They have survived the war and will do all in their power to make it back to their homes.

There are many displaced in the camp and when Klara recognises a man from her past it kicks off a deadly game of cat and mouse.

He knows the lengths she is capable of to keep her daughter safe and she knows who he really is. (This is something that does have a familiar ring to it but I can not place where it was from. Having said that I’m sure it is quite a common scenario in the wake of WWII, or any war really.)

I can see this being a tense and captivating race to see who can make it out alive and what the cost of silence will be. We have 30 of our members reading The Survivors and I look forward to hearing their thoughts, almost as much as I look forward to sinking my own teeth in.

Kate Furnivall can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

The Survivors is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now from Angus & Robertson, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 30 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading The Survivors so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

31 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Survivors

  1. Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja have survived fleeing Poland after the War and they are now interned at the Graufeld Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. It is somewhat better than running for their lives and surviving on what they could steal as they are now fed and have a roof over their heads but there are still dangers around every corner.
    Klara runs a black market trade in the camp and is always looking for a way out of the camp. She is hoping to go to England but has to wait for the paperwork to be processed which, with the thousands of displaced people, will take some time.
    One day Klara she sees a former Nazi Officer from Warsaw Oskar Schulz, who now calls himself after her brother’s name Jan Blach, in the camp and the danger intensifies for her and Alicja.
    Memories of the horrors of what he did in the war return and she will not let them affect her and her daughters life again.
    Oskar knows what Klara did to survive in the war and Klara knows who Oskar really is but will they form a truce or will they report each other to the authorities?
    The story is told through the main characters Klara, Alicja and David Bouvier a French National who is aide to the Colonel of the camp and who is a very special friend to Klara.
    I really like Kate Furnivall’s books and this one is heartbreaking as we get an insight for what life was like during the war as well as afterwards and what a mother will do to protect her child.
    There are secrets, danger, love and heartbreak so be prepared for an emotional roller coaster ride.

  2. The Survivors is a historical novel set after the end of the Second World War in Graufeld, a camp of Displaced Persons in Germany. This novel offers a valuable perspective for the aftermath of the war for all sides, which we don’t read much about.

    It is a story of survival for Klara and Alicja, a Polish woman and her 10-yer old daughter who can’t go back to a Poland ruled by the Soviet army. They are waiting in Graufeld hoping to make their way to England to Klara’s grandmother. Klara and her daughter are strong, courageous and feisty survivors.
    Klara is resourceful to keep her daughter safe and is preparing their new life. But a new arrival in the camp, a man from her past and a former nazi officer, makes Klara once again fears for their life. Through a series of flashbacks, Klara’s terrible story gets revealed. With intelligence and courage, Klara once again fights for their survival.

    There is an underlying tension in the book; I could not put it down! I read it quickly as I wanted to know Klara’s story and see how it would end. It is a book full of emotions: friendships, mystery, betrayal and love. The characters stay with you for a while and you can’t start a new book for a while. . .
    This was my first book from this author and I am looking forward to reading her other novels.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and the publishers for the opportunity to review this novel.

  3. A big thank you for being sent a copy of ‘The Survivors’ by Kate Furnivall. Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster Publishers.

    This is the second Kate Furnivall book I have read and so I had very high expectations after reading an earlier novel ‘The Liberation’. Well to put it succinctly, I was disappointed in this book.

    I was expecting a quick moving, energised book according to its title and blurb. Set in a Displaced Persons camp in 1945 Germany, after the end of World War II, surviving Europeans cramped together and living in limbo, under the supervision of British soldiers.

    I think I found it difficult that the story line didn’t venture much from life in the Camp. Yes the author showed us glimpses of Klara Janowska’s life during the war, but for me I don’t think we got a big enough glimpse into that side of the story line. For me I found the story line became tedious and I was hoping for more twists and turns, more scenes and turmoil involving settings in other parts of Europe.

    The author did provide a very succinct view of life and their struggles in the Camp and the surviving people from surrounding towns. There was definitely a massive twist in the end that I was somewhat disappointed in. I expected more emotional involvement in the characters when meeting up with loved ones who were believed to be dead.

    The characters were gritty and full of interest but it left me feeling that the book lacked verve and excitement. Perhaps my expectations were too great. A good book but not great, in my view.

  4. Thank you Beauty and Lace for selecting me to read The Survivors written by Kate Furnivall
    The book begins with Klara Janowska and her young daughter Alicja fleeing their war savaged county Poland,
    They are heading to a displaced persons camp which in itself can be a dangerous place as well, the camp inmates are bored and struggle every day even though the war has ended,
    A newcomer to the camp ( no spoilers ) has Klara fearing for herself and her daughters life,
    Klaras story during and after the war is amazing, how she survived and tried to protect her daughter, Alicja might only be 10 but is wise beyond her age,
    This book is very hard to put down and shows the reader how difficult it was for every person after the war,
    Lots of twists turns and secrets throughout the book, especially the end chapters which I didn’t see coming
    This book is beautifully written and am sure all readers will enjoy I know I did

  5. Thankyou Beautyandlace and HarperCollins for the opportunity to review ‘The Survivors’ by Kate Furnivall.
    The story begins in Poland in 1945 and then moves to Germany in the Autumn of 1945 where Klara Janowska and her 10year old daughter Alicja are in a camp for displaced persons called Graufeld. This was achieved by a harrowing journey taken by mother and daughter.
    Klara would do anything for her daughter and is very protective of her. When a person from her past appears at the camp, (someone she knew during the war) Klara is frightened for the safety of Alicja and herself as she has secrets which she is hiding.
    She finds a friend in Davide Bouvier an administrative assistant to incharge of camp Colonel Whitmore. Davide is a reliable help to them both and has also experienced sad struggles in the war.
    The storyline is fast moving and suspenseful especially towards the end, the ending is most unexpected!

    I read ‘The Liberation’ also by Kate Furnivall and enjoy her writing style, she is an author I will continue to follow.

  6. Having previously read The Survivors by Kate and loving that book, when I saw The Survivors on offer to read, it was obvious as to what I wanted to read.

    I found this book absolutely gut wrenching reading about the horrors of war and especially the heartbreak of stories re the Jewish community.

    The story follows the life of Klara Janowska and her 10 year old daughter Alicja that she would protect from anything that was thrown at her.

    This well written historical novel takes us to WW11 Germany 1945. Klara and Alicja have taken weeks to arrive at their safe haven of Graufield Displaced Persons Camp where they would be kept safe by the British army, although the camp is not luxurious by any means.

    Klara thought she would be completely safe here but on seeing a familiar face of a man called Oskar Schulz, her terror would begin. She also befriended other people staying in the camp.

    At the camp there is a French National called David Bouvier who befriends Klara and her daughter. He was married and the story of his wife and daughter and how they died really brings home the atrociousness of war back then. I found it all to be very upsetting and could so imagine what they all went through.

    The adrenaline in me wanted to read more to see who in the book was someone that you could trust and who you couldn’t. It really is a page turner. There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns to captivate your attention.

    Klara’s dream throughout the whole storyline is just to return back to England and give Alicja a better life.

    I really enjoyed reading this book, it captures the powerful horrors of war, it gives us loss, anger and a bit of love and yes, I had tears.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace of course Simon & Schuster for the opportunity of reading another fantastic novel. This one will stay in my heart for a while for sure.

  7. What would you do to survive, especially what would you do to make sure your child would survive.

    I have read and enjoyed many WWII books but I have never thought or read much about what happened after. This book takes place in a displaced person camp after WWII has ended and the troubles of the war have not completely ended for Klara and Alicja.

    The book was told by the main characters, Klara the mum, Alicja the daughter and David a Frenchman working at the camp. As well as present day the book takes us back to what happened to the characters during the war.

    I enjoyed the twists and turns and had a hard time putting it down.

    Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster Publishers. For the chance to read this book. I’ll be on the look out for more books by Kate Furnivall.

  8. Thankyou to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read The Survivors. It is a great read. This is the third Kate Furnivall book I have read, she takes a historical event and weaves an intriguing story around it. I found myself looking in to Displaced Persons Camps, they are a part of World War Two that I hadn’t been aware of.

    The story is set in 1945 Germany. The war has ended. Klara Janowska, a Polish resistance fighter , and her daughter Alicja have walked to supposed safety at Graufeld Displaced Persons camp run by the English. Klara and Alicja’s story is told in the present time and flash backs to the war years. In war time people would do anything to survive, now Klara’s past has caught up with her. Someone from the past is also in the camp.

    It is a powerful story of human endurance. Thouroughly recommend this book.

  9. Thankyou Beautyandlace, Simon & Schuster and of course Kate Furnivall for the opportunity to read The Survivers.
    A very sad, brutal and brave story that had me pause reading for just a moment to realise that although this was a work of fiction so many people lived this nightmare for years.
    The story evolves around Karla Janowska and her 10 yr old daughter Alicja, From the years when the war ravidged Europe to after Germany was defeated and there were so many displaced persons the story flits back and forth
    Karla spent a time fighting for her country and then the struggle to keep her and Alicja safe until they were sent to Graufeld displaced persons camp after the war.. Although Graufeld is run by the British the struggle to be safe is real and becomes deadly when the person she fears the most arrives at the camp. bringing her past back to threaten their future and their lives.

  10. Wow, just wow I loved this book! A couple of bleary eyed nights reading into the wee hours; The Survivors by Kate Furnivall was everything it promised and more
    Set in Germany after WWII, in a Displaced Persons Camp this is the story of Klara and her daughter Alicja. It is here that Klara recognizes someone from her past, and so it begins.
    It is, as expected from the title, a story of survival. There is ugliness and horror. Unbelievable horror. It touches on the things that people would never do under normal circumstances. Horrible things just to survive
    Amongst the horror, there is love and humanity. There were so many twists and turns that I was kept intrigued right to the end
    Highly recommended. Thank you to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

  11. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read The Survivors. A big thank you to Kate Furnivall who cleverly was able to bring a story to life with so much emotion it was hard to put the book down. It’s about a journey of a mother, Klara and daughter, Alicja with such great courage and bravery made their way to the Gaufield Displaced Persons Camp after the war. It took you through their past and present battles and just as you thought that they had found somewhere safe a man, Oskar Shulz with a shared haunted past appears in their path. Its a riveting story that kept me on edge with lots of emotion. I was saddened by the very fact that this story could and would have very well happened during the war. As there would have been many stories like it and the fact that so many people suffered really made it a very dramatic read. It makes you reflect on how grateful we should be living in today’s world. On that note we should also not forget the people that are currently living in war torn countries. Klara was an amazing character scared by the ravage of war yet like her friend, David Bouvier, the camp administrative assistant never gave up hope. Her strength and love shone through her daughter, Alicja’s character. I really enjoyed the unexpected ending. Bravo Kate Furnivall an author I will certainly continue to follow.
    Many Thanks

  12. The Survivors by Kate Furnivall is the gripping, raw story of Klara Janowska
    and her 10 yr old daughter Alicja who have made their way to Graufield
    camp – home for thousands of displaced persons after the end of WW2
    which gives them somewhat of a safe place with little food but in cramped,
    dirty, dangerous conditions.

    Klara wants desperately to return to England to find family.

    Then she sees a man in the camp from her past whom she feels is a danger
    to herself and her daughter.

    Klara tries to keep her daughter safe with the help of three other children and Davide from the administration office.

    Klara and Alicja must resort to doing many things that one would rather
    not do – just to survive.

    This is a story beautifully written, full of emotion and underlying tension,
    with so much attention to detail.

    The characters were amazing and I was able to feel the horror and desperation through out the book.

    It gives an insight into the aftermath of the war that I had not realised before.

    This novel is a MUST read with an ending I didn’t expect.

    Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to
    read and review this book.

  13. When I first started reading this I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue, for a while I felt that I was reading just another WWII story and that it was going to be the same as others I’ve read. I’m very glad that I persevered because it was definitely more than just another historical fiction book set in that horrific time. This story takes place in the aftermath of the war in a Displaced Person’s camp, which I couldn’t help but compare to the camps we have on Manus and Nauru and wonder why we have learnt nothing in 70 years.
    This is Klara and Alicja’s story of how they came to be there and what they do to survive. It is a story of survival as the title suggests. Klara was one strong woman and I’m sure her love for her daughter Alicja is what made her strong and willing to do just about anything to keep them both alive. In amongst the miserable life they lead in the camp, there are friendships to be had and enemies to be found. Davide is one of the lights that helps Klara keep going in this camp and a really lovely character to get to know. The children in the camp are also little sparks of light that help guide them through.
    4 stars

    A story of the struggles to survive and maybe even redemption, a story of a time I hope I never have to know myself.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  14. Thank you Beauty and Lace, Simon & Schuster and of course Kate Furnivall for the opportunity to read The Survivors. This is actually the first book I’ve read through in a long time (since having three children) as it has been hard to find a book that has gripped me from the start. This book did that.

    I do love stories, loosely based on reality that take me on a journey through the eyes of somebody completely different to myself. Klara is that person, an intriguing character of strength battling her way through war torn Poland to find herself in a Displaced Person’s Camp. I don’t think I ever knew who Klara was completely, but I could relate to her role as a mother and her objective to keep her daughter safe in any way that she could.

    I found the ending a little hard to believe but I found happiness in that Klara found love again and the future was finally looking optimistic.

    I’d definitely read another Kate Furnivall book.

  15. I am so pleased I was given the opportunity to read and review Kate Furnivall’s “the Survivors” Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster..
    The story is set in Germany 1945.. Klara and her daughter, Alicja, have undertaken a perilous journey to reach the Displaced Persons Camp, from here they hope to go to England.
    The story is told from 3 perspectives, Klara’s, Alicja’s and Davide. He is a French refugee working in the office of the camp. He and Klara develop a special relationship.
    It is harrowing in part, dealing with the horrors suffered by the Jews in Germany and the dreadful impact of war. The lengths Klara was prepared to go to in protecting her daughter was remarkable. To me it had parallels with today’s refugees who are trying to find peace and safety away from their war torn countries.
    The story had twists and turns that were unexpected. I wanted to read it as quickly as possible, then I did not want it to finish.
    If you are interested in history, the impact of war and the resilience of the human spirit I am sure you will want to read this well written story

  16. It’s amazing what people will do for their family, especially in times of hardship. Follow Klara as her and her daughter struggle to survive post war. Just when things seemed to be going forward a shadow from her past, a nazi soldier, masquerading as a refugee using her dead brothers name, appears at her displaced persons camp. Why is he here, what does he want, all Klara knows is that while he lives her and her daughter are both in serious danger.
    The perspective of Klara, her daughter Alicia and a French refugee Davide are followed in the story with the greatest perspective from Klara with flashbacks to her terrible past.
    A good story, it invites you in, you feel their pain and grown to love and hate the characters. The tragedies of the Jews in the war years are written in well, the losses, the hardships and the strangest friends are shown. I really enjoyed this story and would highly recommend. Thanks for the opportunity!

  17. The Survivors tells the story of Klara and her daughter as they try to find a safe place in this world after fleeing Poland after WWII. They are eventually interned at a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany where they meet many others in similar situations and start to feel safe but Klara still needs to protect her daughter and prepare for the time when they can escape to England.
    Unfortunately a nazi officer from their past arrives at the camp and Klara fears for their safety as she knows that he knows her secrets.
    You get a real sense of what it was like during and after the war from this book and it is a great story of what a mother will do to protect her child.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

  18. Thank you for the opportunity to read Kate Furnivall’s book “The Survivors” Unfortunately I could just not get into this book, after 4 attempts it just didn’t grab me, I am glad other people found it enjoyable : )

  19. I found this book very enjoyable, it was gripping. The back and forth of the characters stories was seamless and flowed well.
    To be honest I felt I had to be quiet when I read this! Not sure if I was so drawn into the situations surrounding the characters and that they so often had to be quiet or if it’s because I often read it late at night!
    The characters are strong, especially the women – surely many would have been broken after enduring the war and the things that went with it, but not Klara and Alicja.
    I was surprised that two of the characters had the final roles that they did, it certainly turned my thoughts on their heads, and sadly, the ending wasn’t what I had hoped or expected, but all in all, The Survivors was a great read and one I would recommend to anyone who likes novels of post WWII and/or wartime.

  20. The Survivors is the story of Klara and her daughter Alicja following the aftermath of World War II, and their struggle to forge a new life while living among thousands of other desperate people in the Graufeld Displaced Persons camp. A man from Klara’s past appears in the camp, and his presence is a threat to their safety.

    At times gritty and dark, The Survivors provides a glimpse into Klara’s life during the war, including her work in the Resistance and then as a Nazi officer’s mistress, and of the conditions endured by those displaced by war. It shows the determination, strength and hopelessness faced by the war’s legacy, and that love can bloom in the most unlikely settings.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster for the chance to review this wonderful novel.

  21. I found this novel to be a captivating read. It incorporated real life past history and fiction to create a novel which brings you into the story. This novel uses the story of a mother and child to make us believe what is written has actually happened. And as a matter as fact, while this story may not be real, many other stories not written, which actually happened, are quite similar.
    I all round enjoyed this novel, and would not hesitate to read another novel by Kate Furnivall.

  22. I found this novel to be a captivating read. It incorporated real life past history and fiction to create a novel which brings you into the story. This novel uses the story of a mother and child to make us believe what is written has actually happened. And as a matter as fact, while this story may not be real, many other stories not written, which actually happened, are quite similar.
    I all round enjoyed this novel, and would not hesitate to read another novel by Furnivall.

  23. I found this novel to be a captivating read.
    It incorporated real life past history and fiction to create a novel which brings you into the story. This novel uses the story of a mother and child to make us believe what is written has actually happened. And as a matter as fact, while this story may not be real, many other stories not written, which actually happened, are quite similar.
    This novel flowed quite well between POV of different characters, and I quite liked reading from the point of view of Alicjia. I felt remorse, sadness, anger, and happiness, all along with and for her.
    I all round enjoyed this novel, and would not hesitate to read another novel by Furnivall.

  24. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Survivors by Kate Furnivall.

    This is the second book of Furnivall’s I have read and again it did not disappoint. Furnivall has the ability to mix history and fact with a beautifully woven story that immerses you in the characters and events of the day.

    The Survivors is set just after the end of the second world war and follows a mother and daughter Klara Janowska, a Polish refugee, and her daughter Alicja as they make the dangerous journey to the German border and Graufeld Diplaced Persons camp.

    Once in the camp Klara works to ensure the safety and survival of herself, her daughter and some of the orphaned children as she attempts to get the authorities to recognise her British ancestry so she can move to safety.

    Then one day she sees another refugee at the camp who brings the horrors of her past crashing down upon her, for he is not who he seems. He is a high ranking Nazi who has previously tortured Klara and forced her to engage in actions in order to keep her abducted daughter alive. He is also the only person in the camp who knows that Klara was a member of the Resistance and therefore a wanted person by the Soviets.

    Each knowing the true identity of the other, and what it would mean if the authorities found out means the stakes have been raised, Klara needs to protect her daughter and ensure safe passage to England while knowing the only reason he is in the camp is to kill her.

    And so begins a deadly game of cat and mouse, with twists and turns and surprises at every corner, for as the story progresses we discover that all are not who they appear to be and we begin to wonder who or what should we be believing.

    Furnivall develops her characters magnificently, accurately recreating the experiences of the time and the horrors both during and after the war, as well as the hopelessness experienced by those who were displaced from their homes and lives.

    Highly recommended as a great read, but also a fabulous insight into the history of what happens after a war ends and people have to try to rebuild their lives. I give it 5 stars.

  25. I really enjoyed this book. It was very confronting and harsh. Klara comes across as a very strong character.. I couldn’t put this book down. Thank you for the opportunity.

  26. This book was a dark and gritty novel about life for “displaced people” after the WW2. I really enjoyed the story telling and character development of the mother and daughter main characters. This is the first novel I have read by Furnivall, and I enjoyed her writing style and will definitely look out for her books in the future.

  27. This is the first Kate Furnivall book I have read and I really enjoyed it! Love the different POV of the different characters. I had a hard time putting this book down once I started it. Definitely recommend reading it.

    Thank you for the opportunity to read this.

  28. A fantastic novel by Kate Frnivall a gripping story from beginning to end.
    Set at the end of the Second World War the story of Klara and her daughter Alicja the characters are strong women as they try to find a safe place after fleeing Poland.
    Loved this book and the insight into life post war.
    Thank you to beauty and lace for the optunity to read this novel.

  29. I really enjoyed the book The Survivors even with the awfulness what war can do to people and what they must do to survive in war and even who they should trust. The story of Klara and her daughter Alicja really gave you an incite what people went through and the horrors. I loved it also Klara took under her wing the orphaned children to care for and have there backs. It was a story of war with love thrown in and danger and survival. I definitely recommend this book a absolutely great read.

    Thank you so much to Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster Publishers for a great book. .

  30. As a massive Kate Furnivall fan, I was so excited to be chosen to review The Survivors. And in true Kate fashion she doesn’t disappoint.

    This was a great twist on the standard WWII tales and kept me guessing as to how it was all going to play out and which characters were really good or bad,

    I recommend The Survivors and all of Kate’s books to anyone who loves brilliantly written historical fiction.

    Thank you for the opportunity to read and review.

  31. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I really, really disliked the characters, especially Klara, the main character. She really frustrated me! I also found the story to be a bit boring, and the settings weren’t really descriptive, so I had trouble imagining the story. I found the story quite tedious and flat – it didn’t really evoke any emotion in me.

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