What Remains at the End
‘Ford’s book is as much about the retreading of history as it is about history itself. It’s about the search for the truth as a way of understanding the truth of ourselves. She is careful not to forget the small kindnesses and cruelties that live within the sweep of world forces. This book is both an education and a song of the heartache.’ – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
"What Remains at the End is an astonishing debut -- a remarkable balancing act. Alexandra Ford negotiates a delicate, fraught emotional landscape with acute sensitivity, complex self-awareness and extraordinary empathy. It would be easy to overload the reader with such a many-stranded story, but Ford is as skilled at silence as she is at words. She knows precisely how to move between the many threads of her narrative, leaving the reader aghast or deliberately perplexed or wryly amused, and longing to read on." – Alexander Masters
“a deeply personal, startlingly honest, and devastating portrayal of the lasting effects of communal and generational trauma.” – Wales Arts Review
In the aftermath of World War II, hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans, the Danube Swabians, were expelled by Tito’s Partisan regime. A further sixty thousand were killed.
Seventy years later, Marie Kohler’s marriage is falling apart. She’s seeing someone new, an enigmatic man named David, who takes her to the former Yugoslavia to find the truth behind her grandparents’ flight to America.
Alternating between the late 1940s and contemporary Serbia, Marie’s story is interwoven with those of Tito’s victims – a young survivor who has lost his mother and his identity, a woman held captive in a sugar factory, a refugee girl living in Austria under the din of air raid sirens. Her journey follows the Danube in search of connection in the face of loss. Connection to the lost souls, to the memory of her grandfather, to the man beside her, to her grandmother suffering Alzheimer’s back home.
What Remains at the End considers what happens when the truth goes unspoken, and asks how it can be recovered, if there is anything left to recover, in the face of so many secrets. Alexandra Ford has written an intriguing debut novel of personal relationships played out against some of the very worst results of realpolitik, where human life is subjugated to political and national ideology.