On a small peninsula off the northern edge of Romania, in a village so remote that it seemed to be separated from the rest of the world there lived nine Jewish families. Like many villages in 1939, there was a greengrocer, a jeweler, a farmer, a cabbage picker, a banker, a saddle-maker, a barber, a weaver, and a healer. Although the villagers knew that there was a “man with the square mustache that wanted to remake the world” and knew about what was happening to the Jewish people, in their small secluded world they had always felt safe.
One day, as the villagers gathered in the healer’s house, reading an old newspaper, discussing what was going on in the outside world, they heard a low flying plane and heard the loud booming sound of bombs in the distance. When they went out to investigate, to see what kind of damage had been done, they discovered their river banks full of debris that had been washed ashore. A wool hat, a doll with no legs, a sweater, a piece of a piano and …..a woman. The woman, or the stranger as they referred to her filled the villagers in, telling them the horrible things that were happening outside their safe little world. In fact according to the stranger, the world as they knew it was gone.
“We need a story,” she told the villagers. “When there is nothing left to do, and there is nowhere else to go, the world begins again.”
“There is no before.”
Yes, this tiny village decided to start over at Day 1. All of the terrible things they had heard and seen had never happened. It was a new world and there were countless decisions to make. Should husbands and wives stay together? Should children be redistributed? Together they made their own rules and life went on. But it was only a matter of time before the outside world intruded on their reality.
What a fascinating premise! No One Is Here Except All Of Us is a beautifully written novel. Ramona Ausubel’s grandmother was born in a small village in the Carpthian Mountains and often told her “fables” about a young girl growing up during World War 1. No One Is Her Except All Of Us actually reads like a fable or perhaps a fairy tale, although not necessarily with a happily ever after ending. It is an imaginative story and would make a fascinating book club book. I would love to have someone to discuss it with! No One Is Here Except All Of Us will be on sale February 2nd.