People Like Us by Louise Fein

It’s my stop on the blogtour for People Like Us by Louise Fein and I am delighted to share an extract with you today!

Synopsis

I nearly drowned and Walter rescued me. That changes everything.’

 

Leipzig, 1930s Germany.

 

Hetty Heinrich is a perfect German child. Her father is an SS officer, her brother in the Luftwaffe, herself a member of the BDM. She believes resolutely in her country, and the man who runs it.

 

Until Walter changes everything. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew.

 

Anti-semitism is growing by the day, and neighbours, friends and family members are turning on one another. As Hetty falls deeper in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, she begins to fight against her country, her family and herself. Hetty will have to risk everything to save Walter, even if it means sacrificing herself…

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Extract

Tomas is waiting for me when I come out of school. Long-legged and skinny, he leans nonchalantly against the trunk of a large tree on Nordplatz. Before I can make a run for it, he spots me and rushes over, bumping into me with a crooked smile.

‘What’s it like, then?’ he asks, looking over his shoulder at the school. We fall in behind a noisy group of older pupils streaming across the grassy square towards Gohlis.  

‘It’s still school. Just… smarter and stricter, that’s all.’

Tomas looks a little wistful. He’d go there in a shot, if only his parents could afford the fees. He’s clever enough to pass the test.

‘It’s odd, you not living in our block any more,’ Tomas says. ‘Emptier,’ he adds, after a pause.

‘I’m not far away.’

‘I guess.’ He’s breathing heavily as we walk, pausing to cross Kirchplatz. ‘What’s your new place like, then?’

‘Just wait till you see it,’ I laugh. ‘After the flat, you won’t believe it! Come on!’ And I break into a run, a bubble of excitement rising inside.

Our vast new house on Fritzschestrasse has a pointy roof and two chimneys sticking up like thick fingers towards heaven. There are four layers of windows. We could have a whole floor each.

‘It’s the biggest house in the street,’ breathes Tomas, staring up in awe at the handsome building, all sandy brick and trimmed with black. His tawny hair is dishevelled and his eyes insect-big through the grubby lenses of his tortoiseshell glasses. He screws up his nose as he surveys its vastness.

I stand taller.

‘Does it have a garden out back?’

‘Of course it does! That’s my room.’ I point up at the window with the balcony overlooking the road on the first floor. There’s a beautiful old cherry tree growing beneath it. Its branches extend over the iron railings and the pavement on one side and under the balcony on the other. From my special seat in the window, I can see the junction with Berggartenstrasse and nearly the whole of Fritzschestrasse until it bends around to the right, near Walter’s flat. I watch him come and go.

‘It must be very grand inside.’ Tomas presses his face right up against the iron railings. ‘Bet it’s got two staircases. And a cellar. Maybe it’s even got a dungeon with prisoner’s bones in it!’

‘Don’t be stupid.’

‘Can I come in?’ asks Tomas.

I steal a sideways look at him. Even though it’s only been a few weeks, it feels like a different lifetime that he and I played in the street behind the flat we used to live in. It was the old me who kicked a ball around and slid down the muddy embankment to watch the trains puffing in and out of the station.

‘Not today,’ I hear myself say. ‘Sorry. Maybe another time.’ And I push my way through the sturdy iron gate. It opens with a creak and when I let go, it shuts Tomas out with a loud and satisfying clunk.

People Like Us is out now in hardcover and you can buy it here

My thanks go to Vicky Joss and Head of Zeus for my beautiful proof copy and the invitation to the blogtour.

If you liked my post, please do check out my others, and also the other stops on the blog tour (see below).

Until next time!

@mrscookesbooks

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Published by Mrs Cooke

👩🏽‍💻📚I read and shout 📣 about books 👯‍♀️owner of 2 book-loving Littles 🌳village dweller ✍️stationery fiend 🍸gin enthusiast 📩DM for reviews etc 💌

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