Wednesday, June 17, 2020

'Redemption' is a Holocaust novel with a history

'Redemption' is a Holocaust novel with a history

by staff writer

RE:  the ''Redemption'' story; here is a link.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Retired California theater producer and drama professor George Kovach is the stepson the late Cecelia ''Cilka'' Klein who was the subject of a recent Holocaust sex and romance novel by an Australian novelist named Heather Morris, who wrote an earlier sex and romance novel set during the Holocaust titled "The Tattooist of Auschwitz." In Morris' sequel to her bestselling first novel, titled "Cilka's Journey," she focused on Cecelia Klein, and Kovach found the portrayal of his Jewish stepmother highly objectionable and took Morris to court for trampling on the memory of Holocaust survivors in both novels. 

So he decided to tell his own story about the real ''Cilka'' in a novel that he and his wife co-wrote, titled "Redemption." The novel has been completed and Kovach and his wife are currently searching for a publisher in New York.

In recent email he told me: "Although this book is about real people and events, it is not just another novel 'based on
a true story.' The heroine and hero are two people I knew intimately, loved, and respected
immensely. They are, in fact, my stepmother and my father. This is the story of their sufferings,
their courage, and their love and devotion for each other. It is based on my conversations with
them over a period of years and on my father’s written memoirs of his time in the Soviet gulag."

Kovach explained that there is a reason for "Redemption" that goes beyond simply wanting to tell their
remarkable story, sharing: "My stepmother, Cecilia Klein-Kovacova, has already been represented in two
global best-sellers [by a non-Jewish writer from Australia.] Both claimed to be 'based on a true story.'  However, in these books, my
stepmother does many things that were impossible, or simply absurd, for a prisoner to do in
Auschwitz or the Gulag. The fabrication of this so-called 'true' character from rumor, selective
recollections, and an author’s lurid fantasies is deeply offensive to my stepmother’s memory. I
protested this false representation of my stepmother and my protest ignited a controversy on three
continents. That story will be found in the 'afterword' at the end of the novel."
"My wife and I searched for a way to redeem my stepmother’s character and tarnished
reputation, to show the woman we knew and loved," he added, noting: "Because we are writers, we decided the best
way would be to have her tell her own story as we heard it."

''Redemption'' is the story of his stepmother’s journey from the hell of a Nazi concentration
camp to a new hell in the Siberian gulag, he said. It is also the story of how his stepmother and his father
met and fell in love, as he put it in his email to me "in the last place on earth you would think genuine love between two people
could blossom and thrive, a place of physical torture, hopelessness, and gross brutality."

'And yet, Cecilia Klein and Ivan Kovach found each other and enduring love in this horrendous place," Kovach added. " Was
it love at first sight? Perhaps. The eternal attraction between a man and a woman touches the soul
in a way that transcends the degradation of humanity. I know this to be true because when I spent
time with them, I saw the depth of their mutual devotion and care for each other. It inspired me
and I hope it will inspire our readers.".  

​An ​''​epilogue​'' at the end of the book​ ​also ​briefly deal​s​ with what happened to Celia and Ivan after their release from the Gulag​, he said


Kovach and his writer wife have co-written (under a single pen name) a novel about his father and stepmother Cecelia Klein, aka CILKA.  The couple have co-written a couple of mysteries earlier in their lives under a pen name so they know how to write a novel.

Last Spring and Summer 0f 2019 were very frustrating and painful for George. People he had always admired and loved, who were now dead, were presented by Australian writer Heather Morris and her publishers in a very negative light.

"I was able to save my father's reputation by my threat of suing them, but not Cecilia's. Since this brouhaha started, I've talked to numerous individuals, including, alas, family members who now feel Cecilia was some kind of monster," Kovach told this blog.

''That's why my wife and I wanted to write a book about the Cecilia we knew and what we knew about her. The novel deals with Cecilia's liberation from Ravensbruck, her arrest in Slovakia by the Soviets, and her meeting and falling in love with my father in the Gulag.''

''This novel is based on conversations we had with Cecilia and my father, on his memoirs of the Gulag, and on Cecilia's documents in my possession. Since we were writers, it only seemed natural that we defend her by writing a book really based on the true facts.We don't have a publisher as yet, but we will self-publish if necessary.''

There is also an "afterword'' at the end of the book, deals with the whole controversy with Heather Morris and her publishers.

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