If you read my review for Within These Walls of Sorrow, you know how deeply affected I was by this stunning novel. So it’s my absolute honor today to chat with its fabulous author, Amanda Barratt!
Amanda Barratt is the bestselling author of numerous historical novels and novellas, including My Dearest Dietrich and The White Rose Resists (a 2021 Christy Award winner). She is passionate about illuminating oft-forgotten facets of history through a fictional narrative. Amanda lives in Michigan. Learn more at www.amandabarratt.net.
WITHIN THESE WALLS OF SORROW by Amanda Barratt
A Novel of World War II Poland
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: January 17, 2023
“As superbly written as it is haunting in its truth.” –Kate Breslin, best-selling author of For Such a Time
Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany’s invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression.
Hania Silverman’s carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto’s population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania’s natural resiliency is exhausted by reality.
Zodia and Hania’s lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart.
Amanda Barratt’s meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times.
“An unflinching tale that implores readers to stop and see, not a massive crowd of people, but individual hearts and souls. This book will linger in your heart and mind long after you’ve read the final page.” –Amanda Cox, Christy Award-winning author of The Edge of Belonging
Hi dearest Amanda! Welcome back to the blog!
Amanda: Netflix, though I rarely keep my subscription longer than a month or two. At the moment, there are a few films on the streaming platform I’ve been eager to watch, so I’m just waiting for the right time (meaning once my deadlines are met) and then I’ll subscribe for a month and watch them all.
Carrie: that sounds like the way to do it!!
Amanda: Umm. . . under, though my brain is usually too occupied with whatever plot conundrum I’m currently untangling to notice one way or the other.
Amanda: The ocean. I love the symphony of waves upon sand and the ebb and flow of the tide.
Carrie: no sound quite like it ♥
Amanda: Print all the way. Though I read ebooks from time to time, I far prefer holding a book in my hands and hearing the rustle of paper as I turn the page.
Carrie: no sound quite like THAT either 🙂
Q: Which books are “on your nightstand”?
Amanda: Oh so many. All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes (her novels are like a tapestry, intricately crafted and beautifully rendered), Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem (this one doesn’t release until March, but I’m so ready for my copy to arrive), and a stack of research books for a novel-to-come.
Carrie: i have read Amanda’s and it is just gorgeous!
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Amanda: I do all my writing at a desk cluttered with research books, save for those random bursts of inspiration when I snatch a piece of paper or whatever else I can find and scribble madly. I’ve been known to write on old receipts, bits of wrapping paper (this one ended tragically, as I cannot find said scrap of wrapping paper and assume a beloved family member, unaware of its significance, disposed of it while tidying), or even a Kleenex.
Carrie: oh no! I’m very sad with you about that wrapping paper scribble’s tragic end!
Q: You’ve written some very powerful fiction lately, set during World War 2! What draws you back to that era each time?
Amanda: Though the Second World War has been written about extensively, countless stories remain untold or little-known. Research can be likened to unwrapping layers of tissue paper; each layer leads to fresh discovery. In times of some of the greatest evil and inhumanity our world has ever known, there emerged glimmers of courage, resilience, and hope. The juxtaposition of that darkness with those fragments of light is extraordinarily powerful and inspires me as I write. I also believe it has never been more imperative to keep this time in history from fading from our collective memory. Though novels such as Within These Walls of Sorrow are historical fiction, they can provide a stepping stone, if you will, to furthering awareness.
Carrie: amen! These are the main reasons I love reading about books set during World War 2, also.
Q: What surprised you about Within These Walls of Sorrow or your characters as you wrote their story?
Amanda: The research ceaselessly left me astonished, heartbroken, and inspired. I relied upon more than fifty nonfiction books to immerse myself in the history of Poland during the Second World War, the Kraków ghetto, and the story of the Under the Eagle pharmacy. Many of the events depicted in the novel are drawn from those sources. When I first outlined the novel, I intended something else entirely for the character of Janek, but as soon as I read an account of Franciszek Banaś, a Polish policeman who provided aid to the inhabitants of the ghetto while working as a guard at the ghetto gate, I knew I had to find a way to include a similar character in the novel.
Carrie: I cannot imagine what the research for this book did to your heart. Much gratitude to you, dear one, for pressing through the horrors to tell these important stories!
Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Within These Walls of Sorrow?
Amanda: I listened to the soundtrack for Schindler’s List on repeat. The haunting violin theme, as well as the other songs on the soundtrack captured my story and helped me portray the emotions I sought to bring to the page.
Carrie: I definitely feel that violin theme on its pages ♥
Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from the book & why do you love it?
Amanda: There is evil and there is good and there is the space between. We are given free will to choose where we stand. Evil thrives when good men choose the space between. As I wrote the novel, I was challenged and moved by the stories of ordinary people who quietly defied evil by refusing to stand in the space of indifference, at the risk—and at times even the sacrifice—of their lives. God has set each of us in this time and place for a purpose and even the smallest acts can leave an indelible legacy.
Carrie: that quote is STILL on my heart, almost a week after I finished reading the book. I want to print it out and put it somewhere I can often see it.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Amanda: It’s always a joy to visit Reading Is My SuperPower, Carrie. Heartfelt thanks for letting me spend some time in one of my favorite corners of the bookish world!
My next novel is also set in WWII Poland, this time in Warsaw. It explores the stories of two sisters and their journeys of resistance and resilience. This story is one close to my heart, as is the history it encompasses, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with readers.
Kregel is offering a print copy of each of Amanda Barratt’s WW2 novels – My Dearest Dietrich, The White Rose Resists, and Within These Walls of Sorrow! (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 Within These Walls of Sorrow by Amanda Barratt?