Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for "illegal" immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp with profoundly different stories. All of them survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, Shayndel, Leonie, Tedi, and Zorah find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.
This is an unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption, a novel that reimagines a moment in history with such stunning eloquence that we are haunted and moved by every devastating detail. Day After Night is a triumphant work of fiction.
My review following the cut:
Day After Night, by Anita Diamant was a fantastic read. I think the biggest possible failing a book can have is being unbelievable. Diamant's research is done well, and her writing makes you believe her story. Because it is based on a true story, it is inherently believable. However, she adds certain things in- one character regains her sense of smell, and seems to be able to smell the moods on the other characters, such as fear, anxiety, contentment. While this is not something that is believable by itself, her writing makes it so. I found it easy to suspend any disbeliefs i may have had while reading this book.
I loved the way that Diamant's characters did not know each other at first, and the things that caused them to come together and eventually be close friends- close enough that Tedi would not leave to go to her own Kibbutz until a picture was taken of the 4 and it was promised to her that it would be sent to her. It was also very realistic how diamant did not just lay out each character's past in one swoop, but rather, their pasts unfolded gently through various flashbacks. You had to spend the entire book getting to know each character, exactly as they got to know each other.
Overall wonderfully written, realistic characters and situations, and emotions that were so tangible, I will gladly admit to being moved to tears. I think the only thing left wanting in this was the epilogue. When I've become this close to the characters, I want to know that everything will turn out alright, that they will have their happy endings. And in a way, you know they do have a happy ending. They are finally out of Atlit, they get a new start on their lives, in the Jewish homeland...but in another way, knowing that Tedi never got the picture makes me so sad. But again, things like that happen, and it is very realistic. I still hope and imagine that the main characters continued to write for years to come, and maybe even saw each other again. And, most of all, the epilogue leaves you feeling that the ending of the book is really a new beginning for all of the characters, as it should be.
A most satisfying read. I would highly recommend it (accompanied by a box of tissues perhaps?), and have added Diamants The Red Tent to my "To Read" list. .