Home So Far Away By Judith Berlowitz Book Tour, Guest Post & Giveaway! {Ends 7/1/22}

Jun 17, 2022 | 3 comments

A blending of thoroughly researched history and engrossing fiction, Home So Far Away is an epic tale that will sweep readers away.

Book Details:

Home So Far Away by Judith Berlowitz

Publisher: She Writes Press (June 21, 2022)
Category: Historical Fiction; Jewish Identity, Wartime Diary, Spanish Civil War
Tour dates: June 14-June 30, 2022
ISBN: 978-1647423759
Available in Print and ebook, 345 pages

Book Description:

A fictional diary set in interwar Germany and Spain allows us to peek into the life of Klara Philipsborn, the only Communist in her merchant-class, German-Jewish family.

Klara’s first visit to Seville in 1925 opens her eyes and her spirit to an era in which Spain’s major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, shared deep cultural connections. At the same time, she is made aware of the harsh injustices that persist in Spanish society. By 1930, she has landed a position with the medical school in Madrid. Though she feels compelled to hide her Jewish identity in her predominantly Christian new home, she finds that she feels less “different” in Spain than she did in Germany, especially as she learns new ways of expressing her opinions and desires. And when the Spanish Civil War erupts in 1936, Klara (now “Clara”) enlists in the Fifth Regiment, a step that transports her across the geography of the embattled peninsula and ultimately endangers a promising relationship and even Clara’s life itself.

ADD to Goodreads ~ Pre-order at:  Amazon ~Barnes&Noble  ~IndieBound  ~ Mrs. Dalloway’s ~  

Review By LAWonder10:

In ‘Home So Far Away’ the reader is drawn into experiencing a prelude to and expanding through the end of the war, through the eyes of Jews born and raised in Germany. It coincides with the “A man without a country” mindset.

This is about one prominent Jewish family who, for generations, has lived in Germany. The family owns a clothing factory and sews uniforms for schools, churches, military, plus, local families needing clothing. There is much division among political parties. Hitler is creating his Nazi plans and following. Within this one family, there are differences in beliefs and causes. Each respects the other’s right to choose.

The story begins with the one family, then centers on the one daughter and her choice of career and political activity. It is about her decision to explore, learn languages, and serve where it is most needed.

The ending is weak, but then there is a reason for that, which the author explains in a note at the end of her book.

This is largely based on facts.

It is alarming to me to see a carbon copy of the political upheavals, protests, violence, enforcing “gun control” , destruction, and more, which put the Soviets in power, enabling Hitler’s cruel reign. Although Jews had lived peacefully in Germany for generations, many of their “friends” and non-Jewish neighbors turned o t to be their enemies. That carbon copy has been happening in America for the past several years. It is like she is telling our story with the horrors of war and inhumanity that will follow. Only this time, with advanced weapons, it will be an Armageddon. 

The characters are realistic and personable. The scenes are portrayed well. The Title and the Cover are fitting.

The beginning starts out slightly confusing and jumbled. Ast the story progresses, it becomes easier to read and more enjoyable. It is recommended for the dualities of then and now. It would present great discussion points.

I offer a 3 1/2 Stars rating.

This book was gifted me with no pressure to post a positive review. This is my honest review.

Guest Post:

As I started writing fiction just before my 80th birthday, after a lifetime as an academic (I suppose you could say that being an author of fiction is my second lifetime), I had accumulated plenty of sources on which to base my fictional characters and from which I could draw traits and moments that I could apply to the characters, including and especially the narrator, my distant relative, Klara/Clara Philipsborn.

My book is a fictional diary, and since it is written in the first person, I soon found myself – my experiences, my preferences, even my vocabulary – being increasingly intertwined with those of my diarist/narrator. What I learned from the experience of writing fiction was that characters can develop their own personalities, their own histories, tastes, languages, mannerisms, beliefs, experiences, and leave their “creator” – the author – me, in this case, – in the dust, witnessing almost in awe the paths these creatures take. It is as if the characters were saying, “Back off and let us be.” I also learned, from engaging for the first time with other authors of fictions, that we shared this process; the ideas about our characters come from the characters themselves.

I have spoken about the “Muse” in other contexts, and in fiction I believe the Muse to be a personification of an ally or an advocate of the characters. Her job is to relay their essence to the author and to inspire the author with integrity; she transmits the vocabulary that will convey the characters’ nature and direct their steps, whether they lead to success or to tragedy. The author is bound – committed? – to tune in to what the Muse is directing her to do. The Muse kept me honest. During the writing process I discovered the connection with Mnemosyne, the muse of memory, whom I pledge to honor during a time in which historical memory is forbidden – even outlawed – in some places.

My book is historical fiction and contains characters both history-based and fictional. It takes place between the years of 1925 and 1938, in Germany and Spain. In the case of the historically-based characters, I had to steep myself in their lives as reflected in photographs, in historical summaries, newspaper accounts, and political documents, many of these preserved in archives despite the horrendous destruction of war and luckily for me, often digitized. I’m bilingual in Spanish and my mother’s first language was German, which filtered down to me somewhat, so I was fortunate enough to be able to consult documents in these and other languages (my PhD is in Romance Languages and Literatures). To make my characters “believable” I had to imagine that they sat at my side, peering over my shoulder and telling me their stories. I had to see their faces and hear their voices, and then I had to transmit their stories in a way that would fit within the narrative of my book while reflecting the roles that history had assigned them.

In my book, some characters were objects of conflicting ideologies and in these cases I had to rely on the Muse to steer me to expressing the viewpoints that I hoped to emphasize. At times I found myself needing to defend my characters against slanderous accusations. One character based on a man who had been expelled from the Soviet Union for womanizing plays an essential role in my book, driving the plot with this repulsive trait. I made no attempt to defend him! But in the case of Klara/Clara Philipsborn, my narrator/diarist, archival documents about her political activities, even about her age, were so conflicting that I was possessed with the desire to defend her, while placing those conflicts within the narrative line of my book.

Strictly fictional characters helped drive the narrative and add color and dimension to the historical setting. I needed to conduct amounts of research nearly equal to that with historically-based characters. With these characters, I of course had more freedom, which became dizzying at times, starting as I was, “from scratch” while maintaining historical accuracy and inspiring interest. What would a British soldier cry out when undergoing surgery without anesthesia? What would a Spanish housewife serve her family during a general strike? My hope was to present fictional characters that would draw the readers’ attention as much as the characters whose names might seem familiar or whose stories could be verified. I wanted them to be seen and heard.

Finally, I hoped that readers would root for my characters, which meant that the characters had to have human attributes and depths of emotions and varieties of experiences with which readers could resonate. Characters would need to make mistakes that would make readers want to yell at them: “No, Klara, don’t go there!” “How could you think that?” They would need to suffer pain that readers would want to soothe. And they would be able to experience triumph, even in small ways, that would make readers sigh with relief.

My academic life was rigorous and demanding. Articles I wrote and presentations I gave had strict standards. Sources had to be cited, style adhered to, facts solidly based on evidence, original ideas that contributed to the existing corpus. Now that I find myself on the other side of the great divide between fiction and non-fiction, I have new boundaries and new rules to follow. New restrictions, yes, but the new responsibility of re-creating historical memory brings a new sense of freedom.

Thanks again, Lu Ann, for this opportunity

Meet the Author:

Los Angeles-born Judith Berlowitz holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures and is a federally-certified translator. She is a former professor of Spanish and Cultural Studies and has published works in ethnomusicology, oral history, and Jewish identity.

Judith has played classical guitar and oboe and has sung with the Stanford Early Music Singers and the Oakland Symphony Chorus. She currently is a volunteer Curator with the genealogical website, Geni.com, and sings with the San Francisco Bach Choir. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, not far from her three daughters and three grandsons.

Website ~ Facebook


The Tour Schedule:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus June 14 Kickoff & Interview

Nora S. Storeybook Reviews June 16 Review & Excerpt

Lu Ann Rockin Book Reviews June 17 Review & Guest Post

Amy Locks, Hooks and Books June 20 Review & Excerpt

DTChantel Amazon June 21 Review

Denise Amazon June 27 Review

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus June 30 Review

Giveaway Details:

This giveaway is for 3 print copies and is open to Canada and the U.S. only. This giveaway ends on July 1, 2022 midnight, pacific time.  Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.

To Enter the Giveaway click on the Rafflecopter below:

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  1. Nancy

    Sounds intriguing!

  2. Teddy Rose

    Thanks so much for hosting Judith!

    • lawonder10

      It was my pleasure, Teddy!

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