Lea sat before me, a middle aged woman with ash blonde hair and a still beautiful face, staring at the tape recorder that I had placed before her on the coffee table. Until now she had resisted my efforts to look back over forty years to the day when, at an age when the young women of my generation were just out of high school, she had fled into the woods as the German army invaded, running for her life with only the clothes on her back, never to see her parents again. Aside from her own personal reasons for not wanting to look back, she was justifiably reluctant to open up to me. After all, I may as well have grown up on a different planet: I came from Daytona Beach, Florida, had never been to Russia, and like most of the baby boomer generation, had obtained my knowledge of WWII from Hollywood or television. I still don't know why she finally gave in. A strange, haunting look came into her eyes, and her voice changed: "We lived in a place called Talsi in Latvia . . . ." It was a voice unlike any I had ever heard. Resonant with suffering and joy, passion and despair, it was a musical instrument that brought into the present an incredible story. Over the succeeding months, Lea's voice would open the door to her youth again and again, when she faced the possibility of death each day. But her story encompassed far more than her own survival. It was a tale of love, of passion, of devotion, and redemption. I hope I have done it justice. The Blue Rider, based upon a true story, is a WWII family saga that follows Rachel, a young Jewish sculptor, on her journey of survival and self-discovery after the German army invades her home, Talsi, Latvia, and she is forced to flee for her life on foot, with just the clothes on her back. Set in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Samarkand, and Tashkent, this is a riveting adventure, told not only from Rachel's viewpoint, but also that of her fiance, Michael, scion of Latvia's most prominent legal family, her brother Stephen, who is forced to choose between certain death in Stalin's Red Army or life as an enemy of the state marked for execution, and Rachel's best friend, Lily, who risks her life to help Rachel survive. Based on the eyewitness account of a woman who survived the war years on the run in Stalinist Russia without ever being caught, this is an unforgettable story.
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November 23, 2010
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