Fires In The Dark
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Fires In The Dark

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  251 ratings  ·  58 reviews
From the rural Gypsy traditions of the inter-war era, through the Nazi invasion, culminating in the drama of the Prague Uprising of May 1945, Louise Doughty has created a novel based on the history of the Romany people and her own family ancestry.
Published (first published January 6th 2004)
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This is not your average gypsy story. Rather, this tale is about the authentic European Gypsies of Romany, nomadic farm workers caught up in Hitler’s reign of terror as he strove to purge the impure from his homeland. Beginning in 1927 in the Moravian countryside, where an infant is born in a dilapidated barn, the gypsies are slowly forced into a census program -- a method of tracking their movement that ends in a mass assignment to an all-gypsy labor camp.

Although much has been written about t...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This one really kept me occupied on a dreary, foggy Sunday afternoon. I read nearly 200 pages in one day! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a different perspective on World War II fiction.
The story is about a Czech Rom (Gypsy) family between the years of 1927 and 1945. It's a fascinating portrait of the lifestyle and superstitions of the Romany people. They were made to register and were eventually rounded up and put in concentration camps just as the Jews were, but it's a less frequent...more
Not a lot has been written about the persecution of the Rom [Gypsies] during the Holocaust. I was very glad to find this novel and liked it very much, although it was heartbreaking in places. This is the story of one family of the Kalderash [Coppersmith] tribe, especially that of the eldest son, Emil.

The story begins when he is born, in 1927, and tells of the hardships these people face during the interwar years. Since they can't find much smithing work, they become itinerant farm workers. Each...more
This is a beautiful and, I expect, under-read book. The author, Louise Doughty, is a decendent of Roma Gypsies and has created a rich and pain-filled story of the plight and flight of one simple, hard-working roma gypsy family trying to survive in a world very hostile towards them and 'their kind'.

They live and travel, along with other gypsy families, as their ancestors did before them, in horse-drawn caravans, going from place to place searching for work along the way. Repeatedly they encounte...more
Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
I was loving this novel. I really was. There are a lot of holocaust novels out there, but this is the first I've read told from the point of view of the gypsies.

It had me for a long long time.


And then the only family member that lived was the least interesting character. He was whiny and ungrateful. And I just did not want to read about him without the balance of his super interesting/amazing parents.
This book is about Gypsy groups in Europe during WWII. I've heard little about this group. The author seems to be descended from this culture. I get the feeling that she has entwined bits of family culture and family stories in this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
This book touched on a subject that I knew about in the abstract but none of the details. I found myself wishing that there had been more of a build up about what it was like to be a Rom prior to WWII and the occupation.
Nov 04, 2007 Marti rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: holocaust junkies
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I though I would. I hoped I would learn more about Gypsy culture. But it's just as mysterious to me as it was before I read this book. I can't understand why the Gypsies hate white people & consider them to be filthy. Even when they were begging for food, they hated the white people who gave it to them. I had no idea that Gypsies were persected like the Jews during the holocaust. The things described in this book were very heartbreaking. But I never felt l...more
Like many other Europeans, many Roma gypsies languished and died in prison camps during World War II. The novel traces the plight of one extended family in Czechoslovakia, their struggle to survive and maintain their gypsy identity during unimaginable deprivation. Yet some survive to witness the Prague Spring of 1945. The story is not unique, but the culture and practices are, and are seldom portrayed. It is a harsh, but interesting story, well written by an author who shares the Romany backgrou...more
The Romani Holocaust deserves to be told and I'm glad I read this book for its insight into a topic I had little knowledge of.

I think Doughty is an excellent writer and I was spell-bound for the 480 pages. It is the story of one Romani (Gypsy) family in Czechoslovakia beginning in 1927 with the birth of the main character. At this time Law 117 was introduced requiring all Gypsies to be registered and have an identity card--a law common across all Europe

In 1942, the Gypsies were rounded and inter...more
Amanda Waltman parker
A good and interesting story that went on a bit too long. Holocaust stories are always intriguing, and narrating the perspective of a Romany (gypsy) was definitely different. I liked the book overall. The most interesting part was the Author's Note that said the detention camp that many gypsies were in is now a resort with one of the former barracks housing the table tennis tables. I found that disturbing.
Amanda Hall
It was interesting to read about the Gypsy culture and the holocaust. It explains a lot about they behaviour since then. The name changes of the characters can make it a bit difficult to follow the story.
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Mallee Stanley
There are not enough stories of the Roma people so this was a nice surprise as well as a good read.
I have not come across books about gypsies before, but now that I have been introduced to this fascinating population I would love to read more about them. Doughty is well researched, and obviously cares a lot about her subject (she is related to the Romani culture herself). The story centers around the experience of gypsies during World War II, so it is not a happy book, but it definitely speaks to a group of people that have been largely ignored in the history books, and I felt like I got a gr...more
Wonderful read about a little discussed victims of the Nazi's, the Gypsies. It is well known that the Nazi machine planned to destroy the Jewish people, but not so well known is their persecution of other people such as gypsies, disabled, mentally challenged and Christians who opposed what they were doing. Any people which did not fit their ideal of the Aryan man was in danger of being sent to the death camps. Gypsies were no exception. This is the story of one survivor of a Kumpania(Family grou...more
Erika Tracy
I picked this up as a stepping stone to further research of something that's been rattling in my head for ages. It's still rattling, but now I have some nonfiction resources to hunt.

Overall, the book was excellent, especially the characterization. The mother looking at her first child and thinking that he is the first baby, that she and her husband have invented the whole idea of a baby -- perfect. There were a few moments that didn't quite seem to follow from each other, some places where the b...more
Jul 14, 2008 Trisha added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Romany backgrounds.
Recommended to Trisha by: Came across this while researching my family history
I have had this book on my shelves for sometime.
This is a novel spanning 2 decades in the life of a Romany family, from the inter war years to the Prague uprising of May 1945.
Such a sad story of the Romany people and how they were treated by the Germans. They were classed by the Germans as a step down from the Jews.
At times during the story, I had to put down the book, as its rawness overwhelms you.
This is the first in a series of novels based on the history of the Romany people and the authors...more
This is an historical novel set during World War II. What made this book so interesting and different is that it dealt with Roma (Gypsy) people in Eastern Europe. Like the Jewish people, they were arrested, persecuted and sent to the internment camps where most lost their lives. It is a part of history that I was unaware of. It is an easy, but not comfortable, read, that spans two decades. I found Louise Doughty writes with a deep knowledge of her subject. I hope to read more of her books.
An amazing novel following the story of a young gypsy man and his family, who find themselves interned in a camp in WWII. The culture and historical facts make this story a must read, although many aspects are somewhat disturbing. Any novel based during the holocaust must explore humanity and its failings, but this goes that one level deeper with a protagonist that truly expemplifies the moral issues that result from this ordeal. My favourite book so far this year.
This story needed telling...the suffering of the Roma during the Holocaust. This group, the Coppersmiths, is particularly interesting to me as they lived and traveled and were put in a concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic. The final bitter scenes of the book take place in Prague. The chaotic, horrific, yet defiant liberation of the city from the Nazis is unforgettable.
Cynthia Bond
May 14, 2011 Cynthia Bond rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
Recommended to Cynthia by: My sister
Very well written, however had a few extremely 'when is something going to happen' moments. Detail amazing and the storyline great. Goes through the life of a gypsy boy and his family (and a girl and her family) from his birth to the end of his struggle after WW2. Not many stories are written on the gypsies struggle during the war, this was a great fictional tale of historic events.
This book was much more interesting than I expected. A story of the gypsies during the Holocaust...a people I knew (and still know) very little about. I missed an important connection in the book and didn't figure out the background of the young girl's family until much later....a well told story. The charcaters were ok. I really wanted more of a view of the gypsy culture.
This was the most realistic look at Romni culture and experience during WWII that I have read. I really enjoyed the look, sights and sounds of the lifestyle and social aspect. It was heartbreaking, most certainly, but very engaging and interesting. The family revealed their secrets and failings, while demonstrating the strong influences bonding them together.
Sep 27, 2007 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: fiction
Not since D.M. Thomas' The White Hotel have I been so deeply affected by a book about the horrors of the Holocaust. This is a historically rich story of one gypsy family and the persecution they suffered before, during, and after the worst era in history. It is a story of strength and honor, tenacity and loss.
Beautifully written and very moving. Having visited many of the areas mentioned in the book I knew the history, but this brought the human side of the story to life for me, including the awful decisions people were forced to make. I shall definitely seek out other books by this author.
Maxine McDonald
I learned a great deal from thbis book about the gypsies and their way of life and how they were treated in the prison camps during WWII, and later what it was like during and at the end of the war living in Prague. It is not a quick read but it holds your interest over time.
Megan Henrich
I have read a lot of books about the Holocaust, but I have never read one from the perspective of the Romani people. It goes without saying that this book is extremely sad, but the characters propel the narrative in surprising ways and I found the book deeply moving.
This is a beautifully written and tragic story of a Roma family during the mid-20th century, including the devastation of WW II. Louise Doughty's family Gypsy roots play out in her books in both an informative and emotionally touching way.
A powerful moving tale of the destruction of a Moravian Sinti (Gypsy) community during the holocaust, and with it a tale of resistance, survival, and progression. Disturbingly, the camp were they are detained still exists north of Brno.
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Louise Doughty is a novelist, playwright and critic. She is the author of five novels; CRAZY PAVING, DANCE WITH ME, HONEY-DEW, FIRES IN THE DARK and STONE CRADLE, and one work of non-fiction A NOVEL IN A YEAR. She has also written five plays for radio. She has worked widely as a critic and broadcaster in the UK, where she lives, and was a judge for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

More about Louise Doughty...
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