The complicated love for her German family inspired the writer’s novel about the Holocaust

We live in interesting times. Let us hope, for all our sakes, they do not get too much more so.

In Britain, we have had the luxury of peace for so long now any other condition has all but passed out of living memory. Even during the second world war, for all the loss and sacrifice involved, we escaped the terror of occupation, the ignominy of collaboration, the horror of the deportations; we were spared the wholesale destruction of our towns and cities and the years of hunger that came afterwards. By comparison with large swaths of continental Europe and beyond, we came off lightly – and of course, we were victorious.

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