Why Didn't They Leave?

Why Didn't They Leave?

By Eva Hnizdo

Format: Paperback

(2 customer reviews)

Publication Date: Sept. 28, 2021


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Categories: Historical

ISBN: 9781913913366


You can’t ask for asylum in another country just because your mother drives you nuts, so when 19-year-old Zuzana flees from communist Czechoslovakia to England in 1972, she says she just wants freedom. Her relationship with her mother, Magda – a Holocaust survivor who lost most of her family in the concentration camps – is toxic and Zuzana finds happiness in London with a loving husband and beautiful son.


But when her mother dies, Zuzana is crushed by guilt and feels an overwhelming urge to discover more about her family’s tragic history. So, she embarks on a life-changing journey, discovers some incredible stories and tries to answer the question which haunts her: Why didn’t they leave?

"Eva Hnizdo’s Why Didn’t They Leave illuminates the lives of one extended family from the beginning of Naziism. With meticulous detail and heart-wrenching scenes Hnizdo offers answers through her characters’ actions as to why some chose to remain in their homeland and others fled. A story filled with history and heartache... survival and hope." – Julie Maloney, author and founder/director of Women Reading Aloud 

"Eva Hnizdo has turned her own story into a gripping work of fiction that follows a secular Czech Jewish family’s fortunes during World War Two through communism to a multi-cultural life in Britain. Her book says much about prejudice and tolerance, survivors’ guilt and the emotional challenges of motherhood, all through the voice of her extrovert and sexy heroine." – Brigid Grauman, journalist and author of Uncle Otto's Puppet Theatre

"Zuzana is haunted by the choices that her family made during the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and later during the Communist regime. Her discoveries make for a compelling story of loyalty, love, and courage." – Jacqueline Sheehan, author

Eva Hnizdo is a Jewish Czech, born in Prague in 1953. She is the granddaughter of a man who lost his life by deciding not to emigrate in 1938, and a daughter of parents who, after surviving the Holocaust, spent most of their adult lives under an oppressive communist regime. Eva studied medicine at Charles University in Prague and became a doctor. She escaped to the West in 1986 and obtained political asylum in the UK in 1987 with her husband and two sons. She worked as a full-time GP partner at the same surgery in Watford for twenty-three years. Now retired, she spends her time writing. 


Aria H. NetGalley Reviewer (Guest Review) - 26 Oct, 2021

This is such a beautiful book that follows a jewish family from Czechoslovakia being persecuted by both the Nazis and the communists. It was a heartbreaking and hopeful story that I simply could not put down. It was breathtaking. I loved it.

Original review: https://www.netgalley.co.uk/book/237787/review/865607

Petr Balajka (Guest Review) - 07 Feb, 2022

This very readable story of a Jewish family from Czechoslovakia uses the personal story of a young girl Zuzana to tell the history of the Jews from the Second World War, which brought disaster to her family, through life in communist Czechoslovakia to her decision to emigrate, i.e. to live freely in England and at the same time to escape the influence of her mother.
Eva Hnizdo obviously draws on her family history, but also adds to the reality in a way that creates a plastic, appealing story. Her focus is not just on the Holocaust and post-war totalitarianism, but on everyday life, family relationships, and the exploration of Jewish identity. Once the protagonist, Susan, is in England, other weighty themes enter the book, such as the integration of immigrants into local society, issues of national ethnicity and multiculturalism.

Velmi čtivý příběh židovské rodiny z Československa líčí na osobním osudu mladé dívky Zuzany historii Židů od druhé světové války, která přinesla i její rodině katastrofu, přes život v komunistickém Československu až po její rozhodnutí emigrovat, tedy žít svobodně v Anglii a zároveň se vymanit z vlivu své matky.
Eva Hnizdo čerpá evidentně jak z rodinné historie, tak realitu autorsky dotváří, aby vznikl plastický přitažlivý příběh. V centru její pozornosti není jen holocaust a poválečná totalita, ale všední život, rodinné vztahy, poznávání židovské identity. Jakmile je hlavní hrdinka Zuzana dostane do Anglie, do knihy vstupují další závažná témata jako začlenění emigrantů do místní společnosti, otázky národnostních etnik a multikulturalismu.

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