Stuff

1944 British penny with King George VI’s head on. “I had stuffed in the entire contents of the cigarette tin right away – after feeding thirty of those gigantic pennies into the telephone, I felt like I’d just thrown away a pirate’s treasure hoard.”

Uncle Roger sent Rose a fuse, which Maddie took apart and reassembled about ten times and kept as a memento after Rose disappeared. “‘Demystification’ stops you from being afraid of something – I guess the idea is that if you know how something works, it becomes less menacing.”

Barrage balloons over London. “I can’t get over how beautiful the barrage balloons are. I can’t even talk about it to anyone – they all think I am crazy. But when you’re in the air, and the sky above you is a sea of grey mist and the land below you is all green, the silver balloons float in between like a school of shining silver whales.”

The camp bed in Mrs Hatch’s shelter and Rose’s bed in her room at Mrs Hatch’s are covered with candlewick bedspreads. “It’s funny what sets you off. You miss people the most – really it is Polly and Alice and Sandy and Fran whom I am lonely for – but it is the candlewick bedspread that makes me ache with longing to be home.”

In case anyone else is stupid like me and thought Arcturus was a constellation, let’s clear that up right now. It’s actually a star, and it is included in one of the most heartbreaking bits of the book. “And there was Arcturus, rising over the other side of the square, just like Karolina had told me we would see it in the spring when the war was over.”

Rose rode the Golden Arrow, a boat train, for part of her journey from Edinburgh to Nuremberg.

The Swedish Red Cross was very active during WWII, working hard to remove people from concentration camps. White Buses was an operation between the Danish government and the Swedish Red Cross.

“Irina is an air hostess with Sabena! … I cannot imagine Irina content for long to run up and down the aisle of an aircraft, fetching pillows and mineral water for bankers and screen stars, when she really ought to be designing aircraft, but at least she is travelling the world and is back in the air.”

The Olympia Review, which publishes some of Rose’s poems and her article about the trials, is a fictional publication based on the Kenyon Review.

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