Amid the chaos of civilians fleeing west in a provincial German railway station in 1945 Helene has brought her seven-year-old son.
Having survived with him through the horrors and deprivations of the war years, she abandons him on the station platform and never returns.
This is a tale of hope, loneliness and love, and of a life lived in terrible times.
It is a great family novel, a powerful portrayal of an era, and the story of a fascinating woman. Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2010.