Title: A

Author: Monique Roy

Publisher: BookBaby

Genre: Historical Fiction

In Oxford, England,
Ava, a Jewish art student at Oxford University,
receives a heart-wrenching letter from her grandfather after he dies. From the
letter, she learns that her grandfather has given her his London
art gallery, which he says will secure her future, as well as provide a place
for her to grow her artistic talents and follow her passion for art. The letter
also describes his one last wish—that she find a treasured Vincent van Gogh
painting, The
Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV
, that
belonged to her grandparents and was
deemed degenerate and looted by the
Nazis in 1937.
Arriving for the
first time at the gallery, she discovers old photographs in a secret room that
recount the harrowing past—a Nazi propaganda parade in 1937. She quickly
becomes aware that the room and the gallery, with an empty frame for the
missing van Gogh, hold such rich memories of her grandparents. As conversations
with her family members and those connected to the painting spur memories, the
book switches back and forth between the current timeline and the timeline
during the war to tell the stories of those affected by the painting and its
On the train to
her grandfather’s funeral, she meets Gordon Rose, an FBI agent, disguised as an
art restitution lawyer. He helps her track down the missing van Gogh, while at
the same time, he goes after an Neo-Nazi albino art forger named Luther.
Ava pays several visits to her grandmother, her only living
relative who lived through the war, hoping she remembers something about the
past that will be a clue to the missing painting and their lives in Germany
during the war. It is in these hours that she sits with her grandmother that
she learns about her grandparents finding refuge on an Austrian farm after they
flee Munich and of Charlotte, a
local farm girl who lives at Lake Toplitz.
Ava’s grandmother who struggles with dementia recalls Charlotte’s
last name. With this information, Ava tracks down Charlotte
at her home at Lake Toplitz
and questions the old woman about what happened at the lake. On her last
breath, Charlotte speaks of the
secrets hidden in the lake.
When Gordon breaks into Luther’s Austrian hideout, he
believes Luther has forged the missing van Gogh painting. Luther claims it is
the real deal. To right a wrong and under the duress of Gordon and law
enforcement, Luther returns the painting to Ava.
Ava takes the van Gogh painting to her grandmother. Still
not sure if it’s the real thing or not, Ava wants to bring her grandmother
closure during her last days. Gordon wonders if they should call an art expert
to examine the painting. She believes it was meant to
be there, whether real or fake. In the end,
Gordon and Ava reveal their true feelings for one another.

London, England
New Year’s Eve, 2013 

It was an icy New Year’s Eve in London when Ava Goldman contemplated the bitter side of life. As she strolled home from a cozy bookshop before sunset, she noticed the wind crisscrossed between ancient buildings, thick snow blanketed the streets, and a single piece of newsprint swirled up in the gust. This weather was not everyone’s cup of tea, but Ava liked the invigorating, crisp air and the hoarfrost on the grass. She could stare for hours at the individual snowflakes that sparkled like glitter and diamonds.

The chilly weather scarcely dampened the mood as the city, on the dawn of another year, still hummed with activity and celebration. Ava knew she was not alone in her thoughts. Merry revelers stood on the banks of the Thames River, which lay frigid from below London Bridge. They, too, were on a journey, quietly observing the world before them as they tried to imagine the future and rehash the past. Glowing fireworks burst around Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, illuminating the night sky with explosions of bright and vivacious colors of light.

In these moments when nothing stirred, she remembered the past, understood the present, thought of the future, and she dug deep into her soul. Ava vowed to remain centered no matter what came her way. To her, this meant being more grounded and calm. She hoped the new year brought with it hope and renewal like a radiant flower that springs from a timeworn vine.

That evening, Ava met some friends for a night on the town. Ava sighed, her breath crystallized in front of her face. She quickened her pace, trying to keep warm, walking in silence among some friends as they weaved through crowds of people toward a riverside Victorian pub. For Ava, it was almost too cold to even speak. Her full red lips quivered in the frigid night.

She shivered and groaned at the biting cold air, drawing her thick wool coat closer around herself as she continued to stroll around the mob of people.

Her best friend, Isla Rose, caught up with her fast pace. Ava smiled at how pretty she looked wearing her large, brown Russian fur hat. Some locks of lustrous raven hair fell beneath it, tickling Isla’s slender neck.

“It’s bloody cold out here, darling!” Isla said, walking arm-in-arm with her friend. “You look like you’re deep in thought and freezing.”

“Yes, frigid,” Ava said, sighing. “I’m pondering my life. Isn’t that what everyone does on New Year’s Eve?”

“I suppose,” Isla said. “The future is unknown, my dear friend, but there is always a way. There is always hope. Life can be magical.”

As they turned the corner, Ava stopped walking as her eyes first caught the sight of a strange, thinly-built, small man standing under a street light at the opposite side of the street. The light illuminated his creepy outfit—a black SS uniform, complete with a cap and red armband emblazoned with a swastika.

The sinister man caused a stunned crowd to slowly disperse into the night.

Isla jumped when she saw the man.

“Gawd blimey!” she exclaimed, clutching her hand to her chest.

Ava blinked, thinking her eyes were playing tricks, but the sight was very real. The man was smoking heavily. Cigarette butts lay scattered on the ground around him. His dark glasses covered most of his face, except for his chalk-pale cheeks and chin. It was hard to know who he was looking at or why he was there. His head was tilted back slightly as if he was looking at the stars in the night sky. His mouth formed a strange variation between a grimace and a smile as it loosely held a lit cigarette. It was as if he was taunting the crowd in a strange and eerie silence.

People walked by him, either laughing or gasping in shock, many not knowing how to react to the absurdity. Ava continued to stand several feet away horrified. Her eyes were glued to the man who was now perfectly parallel to them. A cold chill crept up her spine, raising the tiny hairs on the back of her neck. The man did not react; he just stood there, like a statue. He did not say a word to anyone.

An older man walked by and spat on the strange man’s black boots. Still the mysterious man did not react. He continued to watch the crowd who stared back at him in terror and pointed fingers.

“Should we call the police?” Isla asked.

“I have to get out of here,” Ava said in a panic. “This is so disturbing and bizarre.”

When they arrived at the pub, Ava sat wide-eyed in shock.

“Are you alright?” Isla asked.

Ava nodded. “Please order me a stiff drink.”

Her friends sitting around her, a buzz of conversations filled the air. A few friends were chatting about this and that, and their hopes and dreams for the coming year. Then the conversation grew more serious.

“Did you see that odd guy outside?” one friend asked. “Has anyone seen someone dressed in a Nazi uniform before?”

Everyone just shook their heads.

“Speaking of Nazis…we must all know someone who has an untold story in their family’s past,” said another friend.

Upon hearing it, Ava jolted from her ice-cold trance and her mind raced with many questions.

As she continued to listen, she felt great despair and a concern for the future. It was a jarring wake-up call that a treasure trove of information about her family’s past lay within her grandparents—one who struggled to relive the past and the other who no longer remembered it.

“Everyone has secrets,” the one friend said to the other. “Some secrets should be kept in the deep, dark depths of our being and some should be brought wide into the open.”

The other friend said, “I believe some secrets destroy us if not revealed, but not all are destructive; sometimes they are crucial to our lives.”

She believed those words, except she had no idea what that untold story, those secrets, could possibly be. She hoped that if her family had dark secrets, that they would not be lost to the grave one day.

Since that evening, those words hit a sensitive nerve. They reminded her of what her grandfather used to say when she was younger.


Ava’s grandfather always said to view the world with a wary eye. When Ava asked why, he would respond that she was by nature a kind and halcyon person and that she must be aware of the transient world around her.

“People judge,” he would tell her, “people can be evil.”

Ava never pushed the subject beyond those words because he would never answer. Her grandfather would never tell her about the darkness that lay within his soul. She knew not to ask—not to push him back to that gloomy corner of his very being.

Ava grew up with the knowledge that something terrible must have happened to her grandfather to make him embody such a cautious way of looking at the world. In fact, she was convinced. Yet, he was unable to talk about the past and what happened in his younger days. The war had closed a part of him off. As Ava grew older, she let go any hope that her grandfather would reopen old wounds. Perhaps the truth was more than that—he was afraid to be taken back to a place that he had tried so hard to leave behind.

Valuable Tips for Newly Published Authors

Guest Post With Monique Roy

Congratulations, you’re a published author! You have accomplished what many dream about…now what? Now, you need to become marketing savvy and let the world know about your book.

Find some valuable tips below on how you can gain more exposure for your work.

Create an online presence: Content is king! Authors need to create a unique online platform to generate buzz, show off their work, and gain new readers. Many ways exist to engage with the online community. Build a great website that showcases who you are, your writing and how it is unique, where your book is available, and any other cool or interesting things about you. Be sure to add social media share buttons to your website so fans can connect to you. Blogs are a great way to share your expertise and thoughts with the online world. Social media is where a lot of chit-chat/buzz is happening. You don’t need to be on every site, just choose one or two, like Facebook and Twitter, to engage in conversations and get your work known.

Get solid book reviews: Book reviews, well, good book reviews, are like gold! Reviews are essential for growing book sales and expanding readership. Readers rely on reviews to select their next great read. Ask your friends and family to read your book and post a review. Reach out to bloggers and see if they would kindly and honestly review your book.

Enter writing contests: Be brave and showcase your mad writing skills by entering into writing contests. Once published, you can submit your book as a way to gain added exposure.

Promote your work: Contact bloggers for book reviews and to be hosted on their sites. For a not much money, you can buy online book promotions. Do a virtual online book tour to gain extra exposure and readers. Promote your book on social media channels. Sign up to do a Goodreads book giveaway. This is a great way to give free copies of your book to willing readers. Tell the world about your book – family, friends, and anyone you meet.

Keep writing and don’t stop: Continue to hone your craft and set aside even 20 minutes a day to write blog posts or even your next book. Another great idea is to write a short story or just free write whatever is on your mind.

Keep up your writing, keep your dreams alive, and don’t ever give up!
Monique’s passion for writing began as a young girl while penning
stories in a journal. Now she looks forward to deepening her passion by
creating many unique stories that do nothing less than intrigue her
Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist
University in Dallas and is the author of a middle-grade book Once Upon a
Time in Venice, historical fiction novel Across Great Divides, and
historical fiction novel A Savage Kultur.
Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents
were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s
their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides, her first
historical novel.
Historical fiction lets you escape to another time and place; and
Monique likes to explore the past so that we can potentially better
understand the future.
Monique resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and son. She also works as a freelance writer.