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Cilka's Journey: A Novel

Cilka's Journey: A Novel

by Heather Morris

Narrated by Louise Brealey

Unabridged — 11 hours, 3 minutes

Heather Morris

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This program includes a bonus conversation with the author.

From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes a new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka's journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis—with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to secure an opportunity tending to the sick and malnourished within the camp. Morris weaves a fast-paced story that captures the immediacy of Cilka’s duties caring for prisoners while appeasing guards at every step, but the brisk speed often papers over a lack of emotional depth and character development. Cilka and those around her respond with a positivity that feels unnatural. Even so, Morris’s propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag. (Oct.)

From the Publisher

Praise for Cilka's Journey:

“Cilka’s Journey gives a memorable portrait of the minutiae of women’s lives in the gulag. Morris has a fine eye for the way they managed their meagre food supplies, pulled threads from their bedding to use in sewing, or strips from blankets to make eye masks so they could sleep in the White Nights, when the sun never set — and even helped each other give birth.” —The Jewish Chronicle

“[An] incredible story of bravery and love.” —Library Journal, Starred Review

“In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Morris’s propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag.” —Publishers Weekly

“Although the subject matter is dark, this is an inspiring and ultimately uplifting story of strength and survival.” —Good Housekeeping (UK)

Praise for The Tattooist of Auschwitz:

“Based on a true story, the wrenching yet riveting tale of Lale’s determination to survive the camp with Gita is a moving testament to the power of kindness, ingenuity, and hope.”People

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of hope and survival against incredible odds and the power of love.” —PopSugar

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document..I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.” —Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project

Library Journal

★ 10/01/2019

Based on real events, Morris's sophomore novel (The Tattooist of Auschwitz) follows a brave young Czech woman from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the gulag at Vorkuta, a Siberian prison labor camp. When the Soviets liberate Birkenau, they sentence 18-year-old Cilka Klein to 15 years hard labor for prostitution and espionage, though she was repeatedly raped by a German officer. En route to Siberia by cattle train, Cilka is fortunate to befriend Josie, who thereafter protects her like a sister. Cilka endures bitterly cold conditions with few provisions, repeated rape, and humiliation but forms a ragtag family with the 20 women of Hut 29. Haunted by the horrible years at Birkenau and the loss of her mother and sister, she longs for a better future. Offered a job in the hospital, she trains as a nurse under the tutelage of a compassionate Georgian volunteer, Dr. Yelena. As Cilka's responsibility grows, from the maternity ward, the infectious disease ward, and the ambulance, she feels purpose and contentment despite the horrors of the gulag where she will spend eight years. VERDICT Fans of Pam Jenoff will enjoy Cilka's incredible story of bravery and love.—Laura Jones, Argos Community Schs., IN

Product Details

BN ID: 2940172069253
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 11/15/2019
Edition description: Unabridged

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