When Klara appears in Paris, two months after the end of the war and years after her disappearance into Auschwitz, her best friend and sister-in law, Angelika, is elated and apprehensive.  Initially, her fears seem well founded – Klara won’t eat, nor will she acknowledge the daughter she left behind.  Gradually, Klara reveals, with cold anger and pitless lucidity, the full extent of what she experienced in Auschwitz as she struggles to readapt to normal life.

Discussion Questions

Please note that some of the discussion points below may act as spoilers for the book’s content.

1.      discuss Angelika’s initial reaction to the news of Klara’s reappearance.  Does she react selfishly by keeping a diary of Klara’s re-entry to society or does she truly believe it will be a cathartic experience for Klara?

2.      when Klara revels that she does not want to see her children, is this because she does not want them to see her in such a fragile state or because it is too painful to think about life before Auschwitz?

3.      how much of Klara’s knowledge of Auschwitz comes from her own personal experiences or what she has heard from other prisoners in the camp?

4.      was Klara’s reaction towards the gentleman in the café in Rue de Buci justified?

5.      when Klara begins to open up about her time in Auschwitz, do you think it is more helpful to her own well being or that of Angelika’s?

6.      what effect does Angelika’s concern about Klara have on her marriage to Alban?

7.      is Angelika jealous of the relationship between Fabienne and Klara?  Does she secretly wish she could keep her all to herself?

8.      why does Klara decide to leave Paris for London?  Is it to start afresh or to escape Angelika?

You can download this book activity.

You can use HMDT resources to find out more about survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Concentration Camp including Freddie Knoller http://www.hmd.org.uk/resources/survivor-stories/holocaust-testimony-freddie-knoller and Kitty Hart-Moxon http://www.hmd.org.uk/resources/survivor-stories/holocaust-testimony-kitty-hartmoxon