The Nazi regime claimed Terezin was a model camp, but when one London reporter lands behind its walls, she uncovers the horrors of this concentration camp that often served as a stop on the road to Auschwitz.
In 1939 Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied Prague and was forced to leave behind her half-Jewish family. Three years later and now a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, she has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.
In the present day, with the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairy–tale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels like she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy their future before it even begins.
Connecting across a century through one little girl, these two women will discover a kinship that springs in even the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains them and fight to protect all they hold dear–even if it means placing their own futures on the line.
Praise for A Sparrow in Terezin
“Gorgeous and heartrending, a WWII story packed with romance, bravery and sacrifice, interwoven with a modern-day thread.” —Melissa Tagg
“Cambron’s detail to history shines as readers are transported seamlessly from the warm, sandy beaches of San Francisco’s coast to the frightening ambience of WWII Europe.” —Kate Breslin
“A testament to the past . . . to a time of both unfathomable loss and courageous sacrifice that we should honor in our hearts and minds.” —Beth K. Vogt
- A follow-up to The Butterfly and the Violin
- Full-length novel (97,000 words) with two storylines: one set in World War II and the other in the present-day
- Sweet romance
- Includes discussion questions for book clubs
About the Author
KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read. Visit Kristy online at kristycambron.com; Instagram: kristycambron; Twitter: @KCambronAuthor; Facebook: @KCambronAuthor; and Pinterest: Kristy Cambron.
Read an Excerpt
A Sparrow in Terezin
A Hidden Masterpiece Novel Book Two
By Kristy Cambron
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Kristy Cambron
All rights reserved.
July, Present Day
The last thing a bride needs to fret over on her wedding day is whether the ceremony will take place.
It was an unproductive thought in the midst of trying to manage pre-wedding jitters. Nevertheless, the familiar doubt continued to plague her heart, and Sera James, still caught up in the shadow of an uncertain future, all but gave in to it.
She ran her fingertips over the string of pearls at her nape and stared out the first-floor bedroom window of the Hanovers' California seaside estate. She scanned the horizon, taking in the beauty of the setting sun as it created flashes of diamonds across the bay, wondering if William had the same doubts. Would he be out there waiting on their beach?
A gentle knock drew her attention to the bedroom door.
She turned and found the familiar face of her friend Penny, who offered a hushed greeting from the hall. She presented a serene, pink-glossed smile.
"Sera? It's time," Penny said, her voice whisper soft, and stepped into the oversized bedroom. Her strawberry blond hair hung in soft waves and danced about her shoulders as if tossed by the playfulness of the sea breeze outside. "Everyone's waiting."
Sera nodded. She dropped the pearls back down to graze her neck and rested her hands at her sides.
So he is waiting ... for me.
She dotted the corners of her eyes to catch the birth of soft tears.
God—William's not backing out. Even though our future's so uncertain.
Sera took a deep breath, hoping it would infuse her with courage.
With one last look in the antique floor mirror, she gave a final adjustment to the sweep train on her vintage column gown and asked, "Well, am I ready?"
Her hair was loosely tucked in a French chignon, with elegant, retro-inspired waves that shined like liquid chocolate against the thin, diamond-studded headband donning her crown. The silhouette was accentuated by simple pearl drops that dangled from her ears and the nipping of an intricate lace overlay in a deep V along her collarbone. She wore a pop of classic red on her lips.
"I'm overwhelmed, my dear friend." Penny grinned, eyes twinkling. The jade color of her tea-length chiffon gown shimmered when she angled past the antique four-poster bed that expanded out into the center of the room. "You are stunning. And I look at art masterpieces all day."
She winked on the last words.
"And I see our Sophie's loan made it here, safe and sound."
Sera reached up and placed a hand over the elegant pearls resting over her collarbone, thinking of their friend. "Yes. Sophie hated that she couldn't be here, but sent these pearls as the 'something borrowed.' She said every girl needs to wear pearls on her wedding day."
Penny nodded. "There's wisdom in that, I'd say."
"Yes, there is." Sera instinctively smiled.
Sophie Haurbech-Mason was the sweet old friend who had been a major factor in bringing both Sera and William to their wedding day. They'd tracked and found Sophie, the owner of a painting, who turned out to be a Holocaust victim who'd been saved as a little girl by the painting's subject. In many ways, it was the connection Sophie had to that painting that began Sera's own journey—to find love and to finally trust again.
But here she was, poised to walk down the aisle, and all of a sudden she wished Sophie was there to coach her through the moment. The pearls, lovely as they were, felt more like a lifeline than just a piece of vintage finery.
"I feel like I'm forgetting something," Sera said as fluttering once again threatened to overtake her stomach. She dropped a hand to her waist, trying to calm the butterflies that had made a home there.
"You haven't forgotten anything," Penny offered, and looked pointedly to the floor where Sera's toes peeked out from beneath the gown. "Except you're barefoot. Here. Let me help you through all this."
Sera knew the last thing they needed was a bride to fall flat on her face. She hooked her fingers through the straps of the heels on the bed and took Penny's arm. She picked up the delicate lace train and took careful, tiptoed steps.
Penny maneuvered them through the odds and ends that painted the bedroom in a sea of tissue paper, using the toe of her shoe to kick a white box out of the way in true Penny fashion.
"How does he look?" Sera dared to ask.
Penny scoffed. "I sure hope you're referring to the groom. Because if you're talking about his gorgeous younger brother, I'd say Paul Hanover is about as insufferable as ever. Spruced up for a wedding or not—there's little to admire of him except for that smile."
"Yes. I did mean the groom." Sera stopped by the door and allowed Penny to stabilize her as she stepped into her peep-toe heels.
"William looks fine. Taking a few deep breaths here and there. I'd wager he's not half as nervous as you. But then again, maybe your soon-to-be husband is just better at hiding his emotions." Penny paused, then tipped her shoulders in a light shrug. "Most men are."
"And what did you say about Paul? Are you two at it again?"
"Fighting like cats and dogs? Whatever. I can't stand him, even if he is something of a looker. We just can't seem to agree on anything." She stood tall and held Sera's arms wide, to take a grand look at her. "But enough of that. I can manage to put up with him for one night. Right now I want to marvel at you."
Sera took a calming breath and instinctively bit her lower lip over the slight fluttering feeling that continued twirling about in her midsection. She ran a hand down the vintage pin-tucked satin at her waist and brushed her palm along the side of the skirt.
"You think he'll like it?"
Penny nodded. "Yes. But he's not marrying a dress. He's marrying you," she said, and squeezed Sera's palms before letting go. "And you"—Penny paused to hand her a nosegay of bright-red peonies from the hammered glass vase on the nightstand—"are beautiful. And you're not losing me, you know. At least that's what I tell myself, that we're not really losing the friendship. We'll still have it, despite the distance."
"So, do I need to give the old speech? About how you're not really losing an assistant"—Penny shook her head over the glaze of tears that showed in her eyes and smiled—"but gaining a husband?"
"No jokes, please." Sera laughed, emotion hitching in her throat. "Not now. I'm not sure I can take them from you."
Penny nodded and tilted her head in a light manner. "Good old Manhattan will just be an airplane ride away. You'll find me there anytime you need me. After, that is, we get every last piece in your gallery shipped out here." She smiled and wiped at a tear that was threatening to trail down her cheek. "But truly—I hope all of California knows what a gem they're getting."
"And I know the one I'm losing. How am I going to walk into the gallery every day without you by my side? You're my best friend," Sera added, tearing up herself. "I feel like I'm being cut down the middle."
"Oh no—don't you do that." Penny began fanning her face with her hand. "Think of raccoon eyes in the photos you'll have for the rest of your life unless you stop it this instant! We still have weeks of work ahead of us to get the gallery moved to the West Coast. We can cry all we want then, okay?"
She nudged Sera a bit with an arm around the shoulder.
"One last hug," she said, enveloping her in the sweetness of a friend's embrace. "Now, off we go."
Penny winked and led them down the hall.
Sera followed behind her friend, past the office where she'd sat more than a year before, waiting for the head of the Hanover clan to greet her about a potential commission. The commission to find a painting of a Holocaust-era violinist—Adele Von Bron—and the unfolding of the story that would eventually bring them together.
They passed the great room, with its wall of windows and sweeping views of the water, its cozy fireplace and whisper-soft lighting, where she and William had sat on so many quiet evenings, talking and dreaming about their future together. It's where he'd knelt down on one knee, with tears in his eyes, and asked her to be his wife.
The estate house had seemed magical then. And inviting. And so full of promise for their future. That was until the week before, until they'd received the terrible phone call that set everything in motion to move the wedding up by more than six months.
"Are you sure he looked okay?" Sera laid a light touch on Penny's elbow to pause their march toward the back door. "I mean, he doesn't look like he wants to change his mind about all this?"
Penny tilted her chin down and glared at Sera as though through a pair of bifocals.
"Why would he dream ofchanging his mind? He followed you to Paris so you wouldn't have to go alone. You've been engaged for months. And you love him. You told me yourself—he's the love of your life. I'm quite sure he feels the same about you."
"But we decided to go ahead with the wedding now on such short notice. We haven't even packed everything up yet. Think of all the crates that still have to be shipped here from New York. The gallery is still under renovations and is months away from opening. And Will's just going back to school. Think of his life, and my work, and our families ..."
"You're about to walk down the aisle and you want to talk about crates and school schedules?"
Sera felt a blush tinge her cheeks under her friend's motherly stare.
"No. Not exactly."
"Then what has you playing the role of the jittery bride? It's not like you."
Sera wished she could tell her what was going on behind the scenes. But the truth was too difficult. Best to state the obvious and leave the rest out.
"I'm not thinking about old ghosts, if that's what's underneath that intense glare of yours. Nerves about being left at the altar were put to rest quite a long time ago."
"Good." It took Penny no less than a split second to chime in. "Because the altar won't be empty this time. And your former fiancé has no place in your vows today."
"Of course not," Sera agreed. "But it still doesn't change the fact that we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Everything is so uncertain. After all, I could walk out there and—"
"Marry the man you love."
Sera stared back at the openness in her friend's eyes, saw the understanding, and finally exhaled the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
"That's it." Penny nodded. "You love him. Say 'I do.' Pledge your heart to him and for one day at least"—her shoulders rose on a dainty shrug, as if the answer were just that simple—"forget the rest."
Was it that easy to forget the uncertainty?
Twilight greeted them as they stepped through the French doors at the back of the house.
Sera followed her maid of honor along the smoothed cobblestone path that was etched through the garden. It looked enchanting, having been softened by the flickering of tea-light candles that lined the path all the way to the edge of the sand.
"Wait," she called out to Penny, who halted in her steps and turned round.
"What's the matter?"
Sera shook her head. "Nothing, I just—" On a last-second whim, she stooped and slipped her feet out of the classic white peep-toes. "I need to leave something behind."
It felt right to lose the heels, as if she were choosing to hold nothing back. Sera was walking toward her future. It was waiting—he was waiting, out on the beach, for her. The shedding of one last barrier between them made her feel all the more free. She wanted to have the option to run if she chose.
Sera tossed her heels up on the cobblestone path and after nodding Penny on, took her first barefoot step down in the sand.
The last of the evening's sun washed down over the beach. A salty sea breeze caressed her cheeks as the beauty of the kaleidoscope sky and lively bay waters created a backdrop behind them.
The bay looked like it did all those months ago when she'd first come to California; it toiled, deep blue and uncaged, stirring in chaos along the edge of the estate. It mirrored the circumstances in which she'd come into the Hanovers' lives, they having been thrust into a legal battle to win back their estate and she, unknowingly at the time, about to fall in love with the eldest son when they first walked together through the sand.
William stood before her, in a gray linen suit and white oxford unbuttoned at the collar. His stance was relaxed. And he looked sincerely happy, with a wide grin that melted over his features the instant he locked eyes with hers.
Sera had to remind herself not to run all the way.
She took each step slowly, remembering what it had cost for them to reach this moment together. She saw the faces of his family beaming around them: his mother, ever smiling and supportive. His younger sister, Macie, was there with her husband, Eric. Penny had turned to stand opposite William's younger brother, Paul, the free-spirited musician with the quick wit and wicked-good looks. Sera bit her lip over a suppressed smile at the thought of Penny's insides tying in knots at having to put up with the best man.
And then her gaze turned back to William.
He waited patiently, with his hands clasped in front of him. The sea wind toyed with his hair, leaving it the way she loved it: just a touch windblown across his forehead. And she smiled with sheer contentment, maybe for the first time, as her soon-to-be husband reached out for her hand.
He cradled her fingertips in his as if they were made of the most precious porcelain and escorted her up to the small altar on the sand. It was fashioned out of a simple white garden archway that was softened by a bower of brilliant summer peonies and banners of draped white fabric that flowed in the breeze.
She handed her bouquet to Penny, then turned to William as she joyfully laced her fingers with the warmth of his.
He looked down at the hem of the gown she'd lifted in her walk through the sand and tilted his head.
"Uh," she whispered back, feeling her shoulders tilt up in a shrug. "I guess I felt like leaving something behind."
He winked at her. "You're stunning."
Sera's eyes misted.
"So are you," she whispered before thinking, then felt the light tinge of a blush when he laughed at her automatic reply.
"Well, that's a first for me, I'd say."
Sera's heart felt free on that beach.
As she held William's hands in her own, and as they exchanged rings, pledging to love and honor him all the days of her life, Sera finally understood what it meant to find lasting love. William was an honorable man of God—the best she'd ever known—and now they would belong to each other.
The service was short, just the way they'd wanted it.
The minister called the group into prayer, and Sera lowered her head to rest on William's shoulder. The words prayed over them were lovely. They were binding and spoke of such promise for the blessings of the future. They almost made her believe what Penny had told her in the house: just marry him.
The rest would just have to work itself out.
The prayer ended and on a spontaneous smile that burst forth from both of their lips, they were pronounced husband and wife.
William gathered her up in his arms with a grin of contentment and kissed his bride. Sera closed her eyes and leaned into him, winding her arms around his neck as he leaned in to whisper a tender "I love you" against her ear.
The voice broke into the bliss of their lovely sunset beach.
Sera's eyes popped open.
William's body stiffened in her arms for only a moment, then he placed a single kiss at the base of her neck and drew away. He took a step in front of her, as if to shield her from a threat. She drew up close behind him and threaded her fingers tight with his.
"Evening Carter," William said, nodding to the older gentleman.
Sera had met him a few times over the last year. He was an acquaintance of the family, but she knew better than to think his presence on their beach was simply to offer his congratulations.
He nodded back, the gesture laden with quiet emotion.
"Good of you to come. Our families have been friends for a long time, so of course you're welcome to stay and celebrate with us." William tilted his head to a long table set up not far from where they stood with vases of elegant blooms and tiny candles flickering light through the fallen dusk. "We've only just been married."
Carter shook his head. "I wish that was all I was here for, but there won't be time for dinner."
William raised his eyebrows and asked, "Now?"
"I'm afraid so. They're waiting up at the house." Carter inclined his head toward the glow of lights shining from the back windows of the estate house. There was activity: a car with blacked-out windows and a pair of men walking around, indicating that Carter had walked to the beach unaccompanied as a courtesy.
He then gave a respectful tip of his head in greeting.
Excerpted from A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron. Copyright © 2015 Kristy Cambron. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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