Today’s Wednesday Wonders features Terry Montague and her World War II novel, Fireweed.
About the Book:
Lisel Spann has dreamed only of wonderful things in her future. Living with her father, sister, and brother in a cramped apartment in Berlin, the small family shares what seems to be an unbreakable spirit of love and security. However, with the rise of the Nazi party and approaching dark clouds of war, any kind of future grows increasingly uncertain. Knowing little of hate and destruction, Lisel is ill prepared as the storms of battle erupt in full fury and loved ones are taken from her as her beautiful city is reduced to rubble.
With fear and despair rising within, it is through her quiet, compassionate father that Lisel discovers faith and hope. Now, in a desperate journey to find her sister, Lisel and her neighbor flee Berlin and the advancing Russians for Frankfurt, a city under the protection of the Allies. But their flight to safety is filled with pain, hunger, and terror. However, with spiritual lessons and blessings from her father, the support of departed loved ones, and her tried but undying faith in a loving Heavenly Father, perhaps Lisel can emerge like the fireweed—rising strong and beautiful from scorched ground—transforming bitterness and despair into a charity that never faileth.
Overhead, the clouds parted and sent a shaft of bluish moonlight across Wittenau. A few stars shone like glittering eyes. Lisel heard the engine roar of the early morning train and blinked with surprise to see it standing at the station. She was later than she thought.
Lisel quickened her feet into a fast walk and then a half-run. Breathless, she dashed into the station just as the train moved away. She pulled up short and stared at the last car as it disappeared in the morning darkness. The car had the customary “V” painted on it with the slogan, “Wheels turn for victory.” She breathed a tired, resigned sigh.
There would not be another rain for at least a half hour and, if she sat down, her ankles and feet would begin to swell. So Lisel paced the train station, dark and lonely at this hour.
Only a few minutes had passed when the wail of air raid sirens ripped open the sky. Lisel’s eyes went up to the station ceiling in astonishment. The sirens had sounded their warning during the night but no bombers had come over Belin, probably not so much because the Luftwaffe had turned them back as the clouds had kept them away.
But a raid now? It would be daylight in an hour. Surely, even the RAF was not so foolish. Nevertheless, Lisel headed for a building down the street where the basement had been converted to an air raid shelter. The basement was darker than the one at the Munitions Works and more dank and musty-smelling than Frau Heidemann’s apartment.
Lisel sat in the blackness with a half dozen other workers, either leaving their workplace late or going early. All of them expressed surprise the bombers would come over at such an hour. Several said someone set off the sirens by mistake, that they would not have to wait long for the all clear. Someone else, an older, faded-looking woman who had come in after Lisel, sighed heavily. “How much longer can this war go on? I am so tired of the whole thing.”
A tall, paunchy man from the corner answered her. “It will not be long now. Those British have about had it. In a few weeks, they will be begging us for peace. A few more weeks and it will be all over. You will see.”
From overhead came the thundering sounds of the antiaircraft guns. Then cannon from the chasers. Lisel clapped her hands over her ears.
A nearby explosion shook the earth around and beneath the shelter. Lisel was thrown from her seat. She heard the crack of wood and masonry as the walls twisted with the force. Someone screamed. Someone called out in prayer. Dust swirled in the clouds that choked. Underscoring the commotion came the hiss of severed pipes. Lisel smelled the sharp, piercing odor of gas. A rumble near the stairway spewed more dust. Lisel gagged on the contaminated air. It was truly the end. The building above her was collapsing. She would die, crushed to death, in the dark, buried beneath this building with people she did not know. For the first time in weeks, she cried out in prayer. Not for rescue, not for mercy, but in bitter questioning, “Why?”
About the Author:
When I was about three, my mom said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I think she was expecting me to say, “A mommy, like you.” Instead, I popped off with, “I want to be a writer.” I can still remember her face. She said, “Well, don’t you think you need to learn to read first?”
I didn’t think so.
Terry Bohle Montague is a BYU graduate and a free-lance writer, having written for television, radio, newspaper, and magazines including The Ensign and Meridian Magazine. She has also been published as the author of book length historical non-fiction and fiction.
Her non-fiction work includes the book, Mine Angels Round About, the story of the LDS West German Mission evacuation of 1939 which occurred only days before the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Her LDS fiction, Fireweed, is loosely based on her interviews with the evacuated West German missionaries and their families.
Terry studied with Dwight Swain and Jack Bickham, as well as David Farland.
Her writing awards include those from LDS Storymakers, Idaho Writers’ League, and Romance Writers of America.