Diney Costeloe - The Throwaway Children

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Recent Readers' Reviews of the The Throwaway Children
The Runaway Family / Evil on the Wind
The Sisters of St Croix / Death’s Dark Vale
The Lost Soldier / The Ashgrove

 

Readers' Reviews of the The Throwaway Children


I've just finished your book and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. It was such a good story and the ending was perfect. I look forward to reading more of your books, thank you.
Gwen Tucker

Have just finished reading this book. It's the first novel ever that has made me cry - and I'm 63! Thank you for the wonderful story, giving a glimpse of what life must have been like for those poor children.
Sue

Just finished reading your book on my kindle and I really enjoyed it ... probably as much as Angela's Ashes and The Thorn Birds both of which are in my best reads . I will now find your other books to read. Drying my eyes now x
Kate Bowring

I have just finished reading The Throwaway Children, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love reading and have enjoyed many books, but there aren't many books that make me feel so emotional. I found myself smiling and crying many times whilst reading it, very much so at the end! Thanks for a great read.
Pam Jones

I've just finished your book and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it .it was such a good story and the ending was perfect .I look forward to reading more of your books ,thank you.Just to say I finished the Throwaway Children and thoroughly enjoyed it even although I was in tears.
Betty Mulholland

I have just read the throwaway children and have to say it's amazing! X
Gina Webb

Just finished this! Absolutely loved it! I'm off to find your other titles...fantastic bit of writing!
Anita Cornish

I have just finished reading your wonderful book" The Throwaway Children " ….. keep up the good work of writing your stories ... "The Throwaway Children" is one of the best books I have ever read.
Joan Davies

I have just read your latest book The Throwaway Children…and could not put it down. I have read it from cover to cover…It is beautifully written and the story line is so gripping…I will be recommending it to as many of my fellow readers as I can.
Shena Hanwell

I just finished reading your book titled ' Throwaway Children ' and felt I had to compliment you on such a well written story.
I could not put this book down I found it so absorbing.
I read a great deal but this is the first time I felt I just wanted to say a personal ' Thank you' to an Author for writing such a lovely story…You did a great job and I applaud you for it.

I wish you continued success with your future books of which I hope there will be many, especially if they are written as well as ' Throwaway Children.'
Jean Limbrick

What can I say!  Have just finished the book in the early hours of this morning- just couldn’t put it down!  Wonderful!   When is the next one out  ???!!! Please write another soon!
Rosie Hull

 

 

Reviews of The Runaway Family / Evil on the Wind by Diney Costeloe

This book was originally issued under the title Evil on the Wind and I read it several years ago. Since then we have had the arrival of the Kindle and other e-readers which make access to deserving books so much easier. I am simply delighted that this title is now available to a wider readership as I think it is an excellent book.

The Runaway Family tells the story of a Jewish family, living in Germany, just before the outbreak of the Second World War.  We are all familiar with the happenings of that time and the persecution of the Jews; the stealing of their property, the arrests in the middle of the night, the stripping of all dignity and rights; the hardships and the humiliations they suffered.

Ruth Friedman and her four children are left alone following the destruction of their home and the arrest of her husband, Karl.  She is homeless and seeks help from her friends and neighbours who are unwilling to harbour her in case of reprisals.   She manages to make her way to her brother-in-law, Herbert, who takes them in, albeit reluctantly and, as the situation in Germany worsens, he decides to leave the country and go to Argentina leaving Ruth and her family behind.  He goes and to Ruth's horror, she learns  he has been arrested and she and her family are turned out of the apartment which is now claimed by  his housekeeper, Frau Schulz, as her reward for betraying them all to the Gestapo.

After many tribulations, Ruth manages to get her family out of Germany and goes to stay with her sister and husband in Austria.  She has merely jumped out of the frying pan into the fire, as within months of her arrival the Anschluss takes place and not only does she have to submit to the same treatment as she  received in Germany, so do her family who had no real understanding of what happened to Ruth prior to their arrival.  Now they do.  Once again, she is left alone as her sister, husband and children flee the country leaving Ruth behind with her mother and children.   She remains behind hoping to hear from her husband Karl to whom she has written and left a letter with neighbours in their old home.

While one's reaction to cowardice and betrayal is contempt and anger, it is easy to feel this way when reading this book indoors nice and safe and far removed from the time and place.  I do wonder sometimes how I, or others, would react if tested in this way.  Would be good to think we would all be brave and honest, but would we?

The family becomes separated as two of Ruth's children are sent to safety through Kindertransport. This part of the book really moved me to tears:

"Ruth was determined not to break down in front of her children. She fought the lump that rose so painfully in her throat, struggled to keep the brimming tears from flooding down her cheeks as she looked down at her two little daughters, one just eight years old, the other eleven, about to embark on a journey into the unknown. How could she let them go? How could she send these two children off on their own across Europe?"

At the time of my first reading of The Runaway Family my elder daughter was starting a new job in Australia, I was deeply upset about this and knew I was going to miss her. If I felt this way when a grown up daughter, capable and clever and able to look after herself, was leaving on her travels, how must these parents have felt when they waved goodbye to their children knowing that, in all probability, they will never see them gain?  It is simply heart breaking and almost impossible to contemplate.

To say I 'enjoyed' this book is wrong. Enjoy is not a word to use for such a topic as this, but I was quite overwhelmed by it.  Nothing mawkish or sentimental about the writing, it was clean and strong, no exaggeration was needed to emphasis the horrors of this time, the plain statement of fact is enough.  This is a wonderful book, deeply moving and I cannot recommend it enough.

http://randomjottings.typepad.com/random_jottings_of_an_ope/diney-costeloe/

'This novel starts in 1937. When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, he set about establishing a pure Aryan race, wiping out other races, most especially the Jews. Persecution of the Jews quickly became a national way of life, and as a result of the terrifying persecution and hatred, many Jews fled from Germany and sought refuge in other countries. Ruth Friedmann and her four children, their home and small shop burned down, and her husband Kurt, arrested by the SS following a terrifying an anti‑Jewish riot, are forced to flee. Ruth seeks aid from relatives and friends, but they too are terrified and refuse to help.

With the help of the Jewish Affairs Office, Ruth is able to make contact with other Jews and with a rabbi who arranges for her and the family to cross into Austria, but once again they find themselves fleeing for their lives as German troops march into Austria.

This is compelling fiction based on historical fact. Those of us who lived through World War II and were able to provide work for the many Jews who had escaped the tyranny of Nazi Germany will recognise the truth in this unique account of Hitler’s Final Solution.'
Jane Hill

In 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany, and thus began his great design to
make Germany ‘Judenfrei’….Jew Free.

It is Germany 1937. Fear and betrayal stalk the streets. People disappear.
Persecution of the Jews is a national pastime. Her home destroyed, her
husband arrested by the SS after an anti-Jewish riot, Ruth Friedman is left to
fend for herself and her four children. Homeless, she is forced to live on her
wits to protect her family. She alone stands as their shield against the Nazis.
Where should she go? What must she do? Is Kurt alive? Wherever she turns,
Ruth is faced with indifference, hatred, cruelty.

Living with the rising tyranny of the Nazis and their determination to
make their Reich Jew Free, Ruth and her family run a desperate race to
escape the Nazi terror as it marches inexorably to its ‘final solution’ of the
Jewish Problem.

This is compelling and immensely moving historical fiction that takes
you into the depths of Nazi Germany and the sheer terror of those times.

‘Diney Costeloe has evoked the sheer terror felt by Jews in the late
1930s in Germany. My mother was one of them and got out. So many
did not. Read this book and begin to understand the pain and the
horror.’

Rabbi Julia Neuberger

'Evil on the Wind tells the story of a Jewish family, living in Germany, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. We are all familiar with the happenings of that time and the persecution of the Jews; the stealing of their property, the arrests in the middle of the night, the stripping of all dignity and rights; the hardships and the humiliations they suffered.

Ruth Friedman and her four children are left alone following the destruction of their home and the arrest of her husband, Karl. She is homeless and seeks help from her friends and neighbours who are unwilling to harbour her in case of reprisals. She manages to make her way to her brother-in-law, Herbert, who takes them in, albeit reluctantly and, as the situation in Germany worsens, he decides to leave the country and go to Argentina leaving Ruth and her family behind. He goes and to Ruth’s horror, she learns he has been arrested and she and her family are turned out of the apartment which is now claimed by his housekeeper, Frau Schulz, as her reward for betraying them all to the Gestapo.

After many tribulations, Ruth manages to get her family out of Germany and goes to stay with her sister and husband in Austria. She has merely jumped out of the frying pan into the fire, as within months of her arrival the Anschluss takes place and not only does she have to submit to the same treatment as she received in Germany, so do her family who had no real understanding of what happened to Ruth prior to their arrival. Now they do. Once again, she is left alone as her sister, husband and children flee the country leaving Ruth behind with her mother and children. She remains behind hoping to hear from her husband Karl to whom she has written and left a letter with neighbours in their old home.

And what of Karl? He has been released from Dachau on the premise that he returns and hands over the deeds to his property to the Commandant, but once he arrives at his old home, he receives the letter from Ruth who admits she has already had to hand over the deeds to another member of the Gestapo. So, he is now on the run with a vengeance and the middle section of the book is devoted to his escape from those who are chasing him. He meets with betrayal and bravery on his way, helped by some, betrayed by others. While one’s reaction to the betrayer is contempt and anger, it is easy to feel this way when reading this book indoors nice and safe and far removed from the time and place. I do wonder sometimes how I, or others, would react if tested in this way. Would be good to think we would all be brave and honest, but would we? If one’s life and family were threatened we would do all we could to protect them.

In the end, Karl makes it to England, helped by the father of a colleague who has warned him against joining his family in Austria, much though he yearns to see them.'
Elaine Simpson-Long
http://randomjottings.typepad.com

'Diney Costeloe is a member of my online book group & she very kindly offered to send me a copy of her latest book, Evil on the Wind. Elaine at Random Jottings had already reviewed it very positively so I was interested to read it. I must admit I don’t read a lot of fiction about WWII apart from books written during that time. Since I discovered Persephone Books & the marvellous books they’ve published about this period, I’ve been reluctant to read anything else. I’ve also read a lot of non-fiction about this period & I’ve come to prefer it. However, I was quickly swept up in the drama of Diney’s book & I read it in virtually one sitting.

The Friedmans are a Jewish family living in Germany in the late 30s. The book opens with an anti-Jewish riot in which the Friedman’s shop & home are burnt down & Kurt Friedman is arrested. His wife, Ruth, & their four children escape the mob & begin a harrowing journey & struggle to survive. Ruth goes to Kurt’s brother, Herbert, for help. He’s a wealthy lawyer but he’s horrified when the family turns up on his doorstep &, although he reluctantly allows them to stay, he obviously feels uncomfortable. He decides to emigrate to Argentina but is caught smuggling diamonds out of the country & arrested. His former housekeeper, Frau Schultz had been stealing from him & spying on him & Ruth’s family & she denounced Herbert to the authorities then confiscates his apartment & evicts Ruth & the children.

Ruth then goes to her mother in Stuttgart but finds she has been forced to sell the family home & is living in poverty. They decide to go to Ruth’s sister, Edith, in Vienna, & after securing with difficulty the passports needed for the children, they arrive to a frosty reception from well-off Edith. Ruth finds work in a draper’s store, rents a tiny apartment & gets the children into school.

All this time, we’re also following Kurt’s journey. He’s sent to Dachau after his arrest &, after enduring deprivation & brutality there, he’s released after he agrees to sell his home & give the proceeds to the government. It’s really no choice at all, of course, but freedom is the important thing & he sets off on a journey that takes him to Munich & Stuttgart (where he finds he’s missed his family), Hamburg, Holland & eventually England, where he works to find sponsors to bring Ruth & the children to safety. This is especially important after the Anschluss in 1938, when Germany annexed Austria & the laws against the Jews were intensified.

Ruth’s brother-in-law, David, is shocked when his father is arrested & he takes his family to Shanghai. Ruth loses her job & has to make a terrible choice when there is an opportunity for only two of the children to go on the Kindertransport. This charitable plan saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children taken to safety in England, but at the cost of separation from their families.

The most compelling thing about this novel is the way it depicts the atmosphere of fear & suspicion of the time. I really felt what it would have been like to live in Germany at a time when anti-Jewish laws & propaganda had turned neighbours into potential spies & enemies. The Friedmans are helped by many people on their separate journeys but always with a backward glance at who might be watching them. Some people help them willingly, some grudgingly, & they never know what response they will receive from family, friends or strangers. The persecution of the Jews didn’t begin in 1939 with the outbreak of war. The gradual process of removing the rights of Jews to education, work & private property was insidious but very purposeful. Many people took advantage of the new laws to exploit their neighbours & take their revenge for suspected or real past injuries. But, there were many others who resisted as much as they could to help friends & neighbours who were persecuted because of their race & religion. It’s important that we don’t forget the past & that we’re forever vigilant so that such persecution should never happen again. Evil on the Wind reminds us of the consequences of forgetting the past.'
Lyn Baines http://preferreading.blogspot.com

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Reviews of The Sisters of St Croix / Death’s Dark Vale by Diney Costeloe

‘A vivid insight into the work of the French Resistance under German occupation.’
crime writer…..Betty Rowlands

“There is no grace in war only in the spirits of those who live through dreadful times….a compelling tale beautifully written.’
actor…..George Baker

This novel is a gripping page-turner and paints a vivid picture of life and work in the French Resistance. Readers who enjoy tales of WW2 and life in France during the occupation are assured of a treat from the very first page. I could not put it down!
Jane Hill….The Historical Novel Society

A riveting book and a fast paced thriller set against the dark and dangerous background of Nazi occupied France. It is a must read and I am eagerly looking forward to the movie or TV series –
George Gordon, former Daily Mail Bureau Chief in New York

‘West Country author, Diney Costeloe, has written an fascinating story of wartime cruelty and courage…there is genuine tension and emotion here and enough incident to keep the reader engrossed.’
Western Daily Press Review

‘It’s a powerful historical novel set in northern France during the second World War and highlights the work of the French Resistance….the defeat of France brings German occupation to the village and the nuns find themselves caught up in a war that threatens themselves and their beliefs.’
Somerset Life

Just wondered if Paul could pass on a message to Diney. I have just finished reading her
"Deaths' Dark Vale."
Wow, what a story! It is the most gripping, page-turning and non-put-downable book I have every read.
It is pacey, twisting and turning; you think you know what's going to happen next, but you're always wrong; and she kept the suspense going until the very last sentence of the very last page.
BRILLIANT! Thank you.
I'm just about to order"The Ashgrove"

"Adelaide Anson-Gravetty wakes up on the morning of her 21st birthday & discovers that she's not who she thought she was. A letter from a firm of solicitors informs her that she is not the daughter of the man she calls her father. Her half-French mother was married before & her first husband, Freddie Hurst, Adelaide's father, was killed during WWI. Richard Anson-Gravetty had married Heather Hurst when Adelaide was only a toddler. He adopted Adelaide but didn't want her to know about her father or his family. Adelaide was only permitted to speak French with her mother when they were alone &, although she's close to her French grandmother, she knows nothing of the Hurst family. Now, however, she discovers that she has come into a considerable fortune from her Hurst grandfather & also receives a letter, written by her late mother, telling her something of Freddie & explaining the reason for the secrecy about Adelaide's birth.

Adelaide also discovers that she has an aunt, Sarah, who is a nun in a French convent. Worried that her grandfather's will makes no mention of Sarah, Adelaide visits her, now Reverend Mother Marie-Pierre, & learns more about her father, Freddie. She also meets her great-aunt Anne, Sister St Bruno, an elderly nun, almost bedridden but with a sharp mind. Sarah explains how she came to enter a French convent (a story told in Diney Costeloe's earlier novel, The Ashgrove, which I read last year) & that Adelaide need not worry about her inheritance. Sarah received her inheritance from her father as a dowry when she entered the convent. After nursing in the convent hospital during the war, Sarah stayed on & now, almost twenty years later, she is Reverend Mother of the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy in St Croix. Adelaide is happy to have made contact & delighted to learn about her birth family. She returns home, goes to university & life goes on.

Two years later, in 1939, war breaks out. In France, Reverend Mother Marie-Pierre finds herself & her convent involved in this war as they had been in the last. The convent hospital cares for the local people but soon, refugees fleeing from the advancing German army are also in need of help. Sarah takes in the children of a Jewish woman killed when a group of refugees are bombed & hides them among a small group of orphans that the convent cares for. She has no illusions as to their fate if the Germans should find them & eventually she takes them to the Mother House of the Order in Paris where their story will not be known.

An English airman is shot down & finds his way to the convent. Sarah & Sister Marie-Marc hide him in the cellars & get him away by disguising him as a nun & taking him to Albert, where a sympathetic priest, Father Bernard, helps him get home. Sarah is reluctant to get involved in any more illegal activities, conscious that she has the responsibility of the welfare of all the nuns. She is also well aware that not all the nuns are willing to disobey the German regulations & there are informers among the villagers who would profit from informing on Sarah if they discovered what was happening. She may have lived in France for over 20 years but many remember that she is English & there is also some resentment that she has been promoted to Reverend Mother at such a young age. The German commander, Major Thielen, is suspicious of Sarah's activities but finds nothing on searching the convent. He is also Catholic & has a certain reverence for the convent & the sisters. That cannot be said of Colonel Hoch, a Gestapo officer who arrives in St Croix soon after, determined to find any traitors, as he calls them, who may be assisting the Resistance or harbouring Jews.

Adelaide, meanwhile, has been recruited to the SOE. Determined to do some war work, she joined up as a driver with the WAAF but, with her fluent French, was soon sounded out about her willingness to be dropped into France to help a Resistance network helping Allied soldiers escape. When Terry, the airman helped by Sarah, returns to England, & Adelaide's connection to the convent are discovered, she is sent to St Croix to make contact with Sarah & see if the convent is a suitable place to use in the escape route.

Death's Dark Vale is an exciting story full of suspense & danger. Adelaide & Sarah are both wonderful heroines, incredibly brave & resourceful. Their stories reflect those of many people during WWII who risked their own lives to help others. However, there are just as many characters determined to thwart their plans, whether from cowardice or greed. There's a real sense of the terror of the times as the Germans settled in to occupation, stealing the convent's chickens & appearing at any time to conduct a search, respecting no one & questioning everything they're told. The anguish of not knowing who to trust was ever-present & Adelaide experiences this just as much as Sarah. They are always aware that their actions have consequences, not only for themselves but for the people who help them & the people they're trying to help & not all their plans are successful. I also loved the impressive level of detail in the descriptions of Adelaide's training & then her mission in France as well as the many contrivances of Sarah & Sister Marie-Marc as they try to outwit the Germans."

Lyn Baines
(Diney is a friend from my online reading group & she kindly sent me a copy of Death's Dark Vale to review.)

 

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Reviews of The Lost Soldier / The Ashgrove by Diney Costeloe

‘Her depiction of women's heroic roles during the war is fascinating, and the combat scenes are well-written. This exceptional novel is highly recommended as enjoyable for readers of a variety of tastes and interests.’
Nanette Donohue – Historical Novel Society

‘…a powerful and moving account of the brutality of war itself ‘
Tony Benn

‘…powerful witness to a grave injustice’
Martin Bell OBE

‘Diney Costeloe has tackled an important subject. We should never forget this terrible injustice!’
John Humphrys

‘…a cracking good story.’
Colonel John Hughes-Wilson – Co-author of
Blindfold and Alone

‘from the first chapter I found it hard to put down.’
The Wells Journal

‘A powerful new book….representing a “gross injustice” to the memory of the brave soldiers who fought in World War One.’
Bridgwater Mercury

‘The Ashgrove is a powerful and moving account of war’
Somerset Life Magazine

‘…a human story that touches the heart…’
Terry Carter - Author of Birmingham Pals

'When newspaper reporter Rachel Elliott is sent on assignment to cover a seemingly uneventful town council meeting in the sleepy English village of Charlton Ambrose, she doesn't expect much more than the usual routine. However, she discovers a promising human-interest story: a grove of nine ash trees planted as a memorial by the families of World War I casualties. The names behind eight of the trees are known, but one was planted for an unidentified soldier.
As Rachel investigates the stories behind the Ashgrove, she finds that she is personally linked to the memorial through her great-grandmother, a servant turned wartime nurse named Molly Day. The narrative shifts between Rachel's present-day experiences in Charlton Ambrose, where she works to save the Ashgrove from development, and the story of Molly Day. As Rachel reads her great-grandmother's diaries and letters, she discovers the truth about her ancestry and the ninth tree in the Ashgrove.
Costeloe is an experienced author who has published several novels in her native England, and her experience shows through this highly polished, engaging, and well-researched novel. Though the point-of-view shifts frequently, the shifts are handled in a sophisticated manner and are not at all jarring or extraneous. Costeloe covers a difficult and painful subject--the plight of deserters during World War I--with care and sensitivity. Her depiction of women's heroic roles during the war is fascinating, and the combat scenes are well-written. This exceptional novel is highly recommended as enjoyable for readers of a variety of tastes and interests.'
Nanette Donohue

'Few things reduce a 70 year old to tears; "The Ashgrove" did. It is a story full of history, dedication to duty, love, comradeship, compassion, sacrifice, and misunderstanding; telling of the futility of war, and the bonds between classes, ranks, and family members across generations, and the effect of war and separation on all of them.

Diney Costeloe has meticulously researched the First World War, and beautifully crafted a powerful faction (fusion of fact and fiction)in the form of a detective story, being unravelled from 80 years ago. It is dedicated to "The Shot at Dawn Campaign", and will do much to explain the circumstance surrounding some of the personal histories.'
Howard

"The book opens with Rachel Elliot, a local reporter attending a planing meeting in Charlton Ambrose which has been called to discuss a proposed housing development. The developer naturally assumes he will get his way but is caught napping by the appearance of an elderly lady, Cecily Strong, who accuses them of planning to cut down the Ashgrove, a group of trees planted as a memorial to all the local men who died in World War I.

Rachel sets off to find out more and in so doing discovers she, too, has a link with those commemorated by the planting of the nine trees.   Originally there were eight but a discovery is made that somebody has quietly and secretly planted another:

"She pulled her daughter, and his, into her arms and their tears mingled in the darkness with the falling rain. For a moment they stayed kneeling on the wet ground and then the mother got to her feet......'This is our secret ' she said gently 'You mustn't tell anyone about us planting this tree for your dad.....

The ninth tree stood peacefully in the moonlight, an extra tree in a new made grove of remembrance"

So who is the soldier for whom this tree was dedicated and why was it planted?    Diney Costeloe takes us back to France in World War One where Sarah, the daughter of the local squire and her maid, Molly are working in a hospital attached to a convent, where Sarah's aunt is one of the sisters.  Here Molly meets Tom, an orphaned young man who has never had any family and they fall in love. Their involvement has to be kept secret as fraternisation with the patients is frowned upon but they become engaged before Tom is sent back to the Front.   His commanding officer is Captain Hurst, Sarah's brother, and it is to him Tom turns to obtain a special pass to return to the Convent for a day so he can marry Molly, now pregnant, as he wishes her to have the status of an army widow should anything happen to him, and not be frowned upon because she has an illegitimate child.

Told that he can have his pass but not until the big push, due very soon, is over Tom finds himself under fire, isolated and miles away from his unit.  He manages to find his way back to the lines, helping bring in a wounded soldier and, in the confusion and mayhem, assumes the so called Big Push is finished and he can now fulfil his promise to Molly.  Unfortunately, his uniform was destroyed while in the mud and the rubble and the pass has been lost…..

Strongly written and heart-breaking this is a book that should be read and particularly, in this year when we are remembering World War I."

Elaine Simpson-Long www.randomjottings.typepad.com

 

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