From the synagogues of nineteenth-century Vienna to Britain and the war years, the story of the Horowitz family reads like an epic novel. A wonderfully intimate family portrait, it follows the lives of four generations of Polish Jews who lived through - and mostly survived - the turbulent twentieth century. Full of tales of bravery as well as the comical anecdotes of everyday life, the book follows the family members as they are dispersed around the world - to European spas, tsarist prisons, Soviet war camps and the British RAF. One became an undercover agent, another a zoologist in France, another a leading Freudian psychiatrist. Amazingly only two members were victims of the Holocaust, though the Second World War left lasting psychological after-effects on all the survivors. However this is ultimately an uplifting story - of a family that never gave up hope and never gave in.
Joanna Olczak-Ronikier was born in 1934 and is a highly acclaimed writer and journalist. She has also written a film scenario for Andrzej Wajda. Her grandparents, the Mortkowicz family, ran one of the best literary bookshops and publishing houses in Poland before World War II.