The Last Daughter of Prussia
In Sarles's novel, set during WWII, Manya von Falken is a young East Prussian aristocrat in love with Joshi Karas, a Romani doctor. As the Russians are steadily encroaching into East Prussia and battling the Germans, the two young lovers get caught in the middle. Joshi is arrested by the Germans and taken to Stutthof, a forced labor camp, where he witnesses Nazi inhumanity firsthand and learns to do whatever he needs to survive. Manya and her family flee, but the journey to safety may end up costing her everything, including Joshi. While the Russians in this novel are little more than caricatures, the sentiments and terror of the protagonists are well rendered, keenly felt, and quite vivid. Sarles adapted her novel from the real-life experience of her grandparents, and readers will appreciate the characters' quiet heroism and be intrigued by this affecting tale of WWII.