In FIFTEEN WORDS, Monika tells the story of two German lovers, both newly qualified doctors, who struggle to reconcile their different political and religious views in Nazi Germany until World War Two separates them for four years, with Max trying to survive the barren cruelty of a Siberian POW camp, whilst Erika watches her beloved Germany destroyed as she tries to raise their daughter alone. The physical dangers of war and the temptations of new companions threaten to keep them apart forever. Then, when eventually reunited, they have to overcome their personal demons to make things work.
German POWs in Soviet labour camps were only allowed to send letters home if they contained a maximum of fifteen words. So Max struggles over how to express everything he wants to tell Erika with such limitations. He enlists the help of his more artistic friends to help him. But finally in despair he writes something damning.
Heavily inspired by the real-life trials and tribulations of her own parents’ early married lives, the novel depicts the complexity of growing up in Nazi Germany among the potent forces of religion and fascism competing for young souls while also exploring the beautiful or destructive effect that just a few words can have.
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