Like the story behind 'Suite Francaise', the author died shortly after completing this moving family memoir based on diaries and letters that her father brought out of Prague before the Holocaust.
Some families save and others throw away. The Kohners, a Jewish family living in Bohemia at the end of the nineteenth century, threw very little away. A hundred years later their casually assembled archive of over a thousand family letters, hundreds of photos, diaries and notebooks, pieces of verse, invoices, tickets and programmes, tells a unique story.
Like most families, they are as concerned with their own affairs as with world events. Two parents, Heinrich and Valerie and their three children, Franz, Berta and Rudi, write to each other about what matters to them most - a compelling story of love and rivalry, arguments and reconciliations, business, money-making and home.
As history overtakes them, their ordinary lives collide with extraordinary world events. In 1939, Hitler's invasion destroys the world in which they have lived and loved.
Decades later, Rudi's daughter, Nancy Kohner, goes through the archive of letters and diaries and began to reflect on what it means to inherit such a story - words from a lost world. Captivated, amused and often surprised by what she uncovered, in My Father's Roses she revisited, with extraordinarily moving tenderness, her relationship with her father and, through him, a family she never knew.
Nancy Kohner was a respected health writer. She was born in Bradford in 1950. Her father, Rudolph, was a Jewish refugee from prewar Czechoslovakia who married a local girl, Olive. My Father's Roses is the result of decades of work by Nancy reasearching family diaries and letters and piecing together her family history. Nancy died of cancer in 2006, aged 55 just as she was finishing this book. Her daughter Bridget, a historian and archivist for the Wiener Library, completed the manuscript after her mothers death and now provides the link between the past and the present. Bridget lives in London.