In the early 1930s, Helena and Alex Birken are forced into marriage by her father to salvage the family hotel in Düsseldorf, Germany. A year after the rise of Nazi leadership, their second son, Hektor, is born. Totally unprepared to run a business, the Birkens fail to save the property from bankruptcy during the overwhelming depression that is engulfing the country.
Defeated but not conquered, Helena returns to her hometown of Essen in 1938 to open a meat market and grocery store. Even after Alex is conscripted into the military in 1939, she is determined to succeed. After a major bomb attack in March 1943, her sons Albert and Hektor are rushed off to safety on the Astral Express toward southern Germany. While they live with strangers in the tranquil village of Köndringen, Helena remains in the industrial city of Essen. Can Helena and her unborn child survive the relentless Allied aerial bombardments that leave her hometown in ashes? Will she escape imprisonment for defying the Brownshirts and Nazis and live to see their defeat? Will Alex return from the Russian front? Will Helena Birken reunite with Albert and Hektor as the Allied forces advance?
Escape on the Astral Express is the first in a trilogy of novels revealing the tumultuous life of Hektor amid Nazism and its aftermath countered by the life-long inspiration he draws from his mother's persistence and strength.
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