Please join me in welcoming my friend Elaine Stock to the blog today to share the personal inspiration behind her new WWII novel, We Shall Not Shatter!
WE SHALL NOT SHATTER by Elaine Stock
SERIES: Resilient Women of WWII #2
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Amsterdam Publishers
RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2022
An unforgettable story of friendship, family and hope as two courageous young women face one of history’s most horrific tragedies
Brzeziny, Poland, 1939 Zofia’s comfortable lifestyle overturns when her husband, Jabez, who monitors Nazi activity, has gone missing. Rather than fleeing the country with her young son, as she had promised Jabez who is fearing retaliation, she decides to stay. She cannot possibly leave her friend, Aanya. Since their childhood they have amazed fellow Brzeziners that it does not matter that Aanya is Jewish and deaf, and that Zofia is Catholic and hearing. Now, more than ever with war looming, Zofia will do whatever is necessary to protect her family and Aanya.
As both love and war approach their Polish town, Zofia and Aanya must make choices that will change the meaning of family, home, and their precious friendship. The journey, decisions and the no-going-back consequences the women face will either help them to survive—or not—as Hitler’s Third Reich revs up its control of the world.
Inspired by the author’s paternal heritage from Brzeziny, this is a heartbreaking yet beautiful story of two women who are determined to remain united in friendship and to live freely despite the odds.
“The story and its characters will linger in the reader’s heart for days… perhaps forever.” — Patricia Bradley, Author of the Logan Point Series, Memphis Cold Case Novels, Natchez Trace Park Ranger Series
Drawing from her own family’s history, author Elaine Stock has created a compelling story of enduring friendship, heart wrenching sacrifice, and resilient strength. While set during one of the darkest moments on history’s stage, We Shall Not Shatter’s themes—conveyed through characters who will inhabit your heart—have much to say to readers in today’s world, too.
when the past visits and stays
by Elaine Stock, author of We Shall Not Shatter
Were you raised in the shroud of family mysteries, like me, and never expected to learn more, despite questions asked? Well, settle into a comfy chair in a cozy reading corner—I have a story to tell you.
Imagine yourself as Sarah/Shirley, born in New York in 1907, and a second-generation-born child from an immigrant family. You’re fast approaching your 30th birthday. Your friends are all married; several have had a few children. Friends being friends, they haven’t said a word about your single-status, but you hear them, regardless. She’s an old hen. She’ll never marry… if she does fall for someone, it probably would be too late to start a family. Pity. Then, you meet him. His name is Charles; Chaskel was his Polish name. He was born in 1907 too, in Brzeziny, Poland—a town known for its tailoring industry, located halfway between Łódź and Warsaw. Love strikes fast. You marry and a daughter is born. Four years later, pregnant with your second child, on a pleasant September day in 1941, you’re sitting in a movie theater with your husband, enjoying a night out. Charles has been suffering with some stomach pain, but for whatever reason, you’ve shrugged it off. Then, during the movie, he experiences acute pain, is rushed to the hospital, diagnosed with appendicitis… but it’s too late. Charles passes. You’re now a widow with one young child, another on its way. Four days after the United States is jolted into the world war when Pearl Harbor is bombed, you give birth to your baby boy and name him after his father that he will never know, at least not in this lifetime. What do you do? The very best you can. And, that means you never, ever talk about your beloved husband, or his family heritage. You only live in the moment.
What happens when your granddaughter asks about the man in your wedding photograph, still on your bedroom dresser? “What?” you say. “Are you going to write a book?” Yes, Grandma, I have… although sadly, you also passed years ago and I can’t share the story that my heritage inspired.
We Shall Not Shatter brewed and brewed in my mind and heart for decades. I wanted somehow to honor both my family and their resilience and bravery in leaving Brzeziny, as well as honoring the town’s history and all those who perished during the Holocaust. But how could I take on such a writing challenge? I only had the scant knowledge of my paternal family. This is what I did know when I began the story: My grandfather’s family immigrated from Brzeziny on one of the last ships permitted to cross the Atlantic before the ports were closed upon the outbreak of WWI, landing at Ellis Island on July 4th. Although my grandfather was hearing-abled, several of his siblings were born deaf. Fortunately, the younger deaf siblings were too little to be asked questions during the health inspections at Ellis Island because if they were found deaf, they would have failed the test and not been allowed into the US. Sadly, the oldest child (a young teen), my great aunt, was either sent back to Poland after failing the health inspection or was left behind in Poland to begin with. No one talked about her. No one communicated with her. Being Jewish, she perished in the Holocaust. I tried to honor her—this forgotten-about-child—by creating Aanya, one of the two main characters in my upcoming novel. Yet, this isn’t an autobiographical story about my family, and though there are several emotionally-gripping passages, it’s an uplifting story because my aim was to reflect mankind’s innate will to not only survive but to thrive without surrendering dreams, friendship, or family.
Are you curious about the when the past visits and stays thing that occurred while writing We Shall Not Shatter? One unexpected evening, after I contracted with Amsterdam Publishers for the Resilient Women of WWII Trilogy, which We Shall Not Shatter is Book 1, upon hearing from my father that I wrote a novel inspired by family and Brzeziny, a second-cousin phoned me to help fill in the gaps about my family. Wait—there’s wonderfully more. He had just finished completing a family history and tree of my paternal relatives that dates back to my great-grandparents in Poland and sent it to me!! I now have names and dates. Yet, on a bittersweet note, there’s no information on my great-aunt who remained in Brzeziny Poland. Here is my Dedication in We Shall Not Shatter:
Dedicated in the Memory of my Great Aunt, Katie Pakula, and her brother, my grandfather, Chaskel (Charles) Pakula of Brzeziny, Poland. You have passed on way too early. May we one day meet in the glorious afterlife.
And also, in memory of all those who lost their lives in Brzeziny, in all of Poland, and all those who fought against Nazism during World War II.
Elaine Stock writes Historical Fiction, exploring home, family and friendships throughout time. She enjoys creating stories showing how all faiths, races, and belief systems are interconnected and need each other. A member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and The Historical Novel Society, she wrote We Shall Not Shatter, Book 1 of the Resilient Women of WWII Series, inspired by her deaf great aunt who was left behind in Poland and perished in the Holocaust. The novel has earned the Historical Fiction Company 5-star and “Highly Recommended” Review and won the Finalist Award in the Historical WWI-WWII category of the Historical Fiction Company 2021 Contest.
Elaine Stock is offering a print (or ebook) copy of We Shall Not Shatter to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read We Shall Not Shatter by Elaine Stock?