Marie Kohler’s grandparents rarely spoke about their past, and now with the chance of
finding out the truth growing slimmer by the day, she travels to Europe to discover
what really happened. She uncovers an area of history forgotten by time and concealed
by unspoken truths. But how can what has been lost for so long be recovered in the face
of so many secrets?
In the aftermath of World War II, hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans, the Danube Swabians, were expelled by Tito’s Partisan regime. A further sixty-thousand were killed
Seventy years later, Marie Kohler’s marriage is falling apart. She’s seeing someone new, an enigmatic man named David, who takes her to the former Yugoslavia to find the truth behind her grandparents’ flight to America.
Alternating between the late 1940s and contemporary Serbia, Marie’s story is interwoven
with those of Tito’s victims—a young survivor who has lost his mother and his identity, a
woman held captive in a sugar factory, a refugee girl living in Austria under the din of air raid sirens. Her journey follows the Danube in search of connection in the face of loss.
Connection to the lost souls, to the memory of her grandfather, to the man beside her, to her grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s back home.
What Remains at the End sheds light on a largely undocumented history that led to the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Germans at the end of World War II. A story of war and suffering, of loss and the search for connection and identity, it is a heart-wrenching and important debut from Alexandra Ford.
This was a superb read! A book that has the reader enthralled and also hurt, disappointed and weeping in turns. The blurb says it all.
Marie’s marriage is collapsing and she finds herself wishing to know why her grandparents flight to the USA. A history she knows little of. All she knows is Grandparents were ethnic Swabian Germans living in Yugoslavia in an area now known as Serbia. Her lover David agrees to take her to the former Yugoslavia to find out more of her family’s history.
What follows is very painful for Marie as she struggles to find out what she wishes to know. The story alternates between 1940’s and contemporary Serbia, Marie’s story is interwoven with that of Tito’s victims.
Alexandra has written a story that casts a light on a forgotten holocaust. We all know what went on during the war but know very little of what happened in the immediate aftermath.
Alexandra’s writing and story tells us of events that we are largely ignorant of.
She weaves three stories that are loosely connected to Marie’s own ties it all up to make a satisfying read. Alexandra’s prose is simple yet eloquent. Beautiful but heart breaking. Hard to believe this is a debut novel. I will certainly read more of her work in the future. For me a superb read!
Alexandra Ford was born near Philadelphia. She earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her BA from Virginia Tech. Her writing appears in The Rumpus and No Tokens Journal, among others. She lives on a smallholding on the border between England and Wales. Her first novel What Remains at the End is available now.