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Fires In The Dark

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  374 Ratings  ·  68 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
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
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
Dec 07, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, roma
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
May 30, 2016 Jo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to have to be more careful about downloading books from authors I've liked previously. I can't believe this is the same person who wrote Apple Tree yard. Just didn't interest me at all and some of the phrasing really irritated together with terminology that I didn't understand and wasn't explained. I can't give no stars so given it one
Nov 23, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel about the lesser-known story of the Gypsies (Rom) during the Holocaust, following one family in the area of the now-Czech Republic from the late 1930s to 1945, skipping months or years forward between its parts. Sometimes difficult to read for a modern-day person who knows what is coming (I was practically ripping my hair out hearing the Rom dismiss early red flags since "whatever those white people are up to is none of our business & has nothing to do with us"). The story of labour ...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.
May 15, 2016 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gypsies...just the thought of reading a novel about gypsies is exciting to me. This is the story of Josef and his wife Anna who lived in Central Europe. This is their story of relative peace and prosperity until the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. The Nazis didn't care much more for gypsies than Jews. Josef, Anna, their three children, and Anna's three sisters are rounded up and interned in a labor camp at Hodonin and later transported to Auschwitz. Josef and Anna's son, Emil, would be the only on ...more
Oct 13, 2008 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 20, 2010 Tyra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 16, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was engaging, interesting and engrossing. I had never read a Holocaust novel from the Gypsy perspective. I knew that the Gypsies were rounded up with the Jews but I had no idea who or what Gypsies really were. This book informed me of a people rich in tradition, cultural pride and a fascinating history. The atrocity of the many evil camps where Gypsy and Jew were sent is always hard to read but necessary reading. I will admit some of the story was hard to swallow and the actions of a m ...more
Oct 06, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set mostly in the current day Czech Republic, this novel takes an under reported, massive, painful subject - the Nazi Holocaust as experienced by the multiple, different tribes of the Roma people - and projects it through the eyes of one family. I really enjoyed lots and lots of it but it doesn't quite work overall precisely because the power of this novel and what makes it so readable are the little details of Roma culture, simple family life, constant persecution, daily survival and loss, from ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Marti rated it did not like it  ·  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
Feb 17, 2014 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2008 Lorraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 30, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenge
this book was very dark. it focuses on a romani family and their experience of racism in eastern europe, culminating with their experience of the holocaust and concentration camps. I’ve read many books about the holocaust, but never one about the treatment of the roma people, and I think this book should have a more prominent place in holocaust canon. I chose this book, written by an author of romani descent, to read in honor of international roma day.
Amanda Hall
Jul 25, 2014 Amanda Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 11, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mallee Stanley
Jun 11, 2014 Mallee Stanley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are not enough stories of the Roma people so this was a nice surprise as well as a good read.
May 03, 2011 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2012 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2010 Erika Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent portrayal of the gypsies during WW II, their lives and their involvement in the roundup by the Nazis.
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
Annie Noonan
Apr 11, 2016 Annie Noonan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous book!
May 24, 2011 Penny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 14, 2011 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 28, 2010 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-2010
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 it was amazing  ·  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.
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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.

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