Fiction: The Ravens of Vienna by Adrian Grafe

The Ravens of Vienna

The Ravens of Vienna is British writer Adrian Grafe’s debut novel.

The Ravens of ViennaVienna in 1942 is a city overrun with Nazis, profiteers, and spies. A desperate Nazi officer, under pressure from his superiors, bullies Lichtblau, a banker, also a writer, into handing him over some of the bank’s money. He is the object of hatred on the part of Hellroth, who has always been in love with Lichtblau’s wife.

As Lichtblau’s and his family’s lives become more and more perilous, they devise a plan for his wife and children to leave Vienna and travel across Europe to England. Once in Oxford, a professor, Tom Oliver, with whom they have been in touch through a Resistance network in Europe, is due to take them in. Tom Oliver is loosely based on  Maurice Bowra (1898-1971), a colorful libertine who played a decisive role in helping Jewish refugees escape war-torn continental Europe and get to Oxford. Lichtblau stays behind in Vienna after his family’s departure, in order to work for the Resistance.

As the Lichtblau party crosses Europe, they encounter danger and get into life-threatening situations, facing them with resourcefulness and sometimes disguises and bluff. They also come across people willing to help them in their onward journey, passing through Germany and France. The Russians are still some distance from Vienna, as Herr Lichtblau, in 1945, torn between his love for his family and his desire to fight the Nazi plague in Vienna, decides to set out for England. ◊

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