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A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland

Lewis finds little to admire in his fellow soldiers, but gains sustenance from the extraordinary vivacity of the Italians. There is the lawyer who earns his living bringing a touch of Roman class to funerals, the gynaecologist who 'specialises in the restoration of lost virginity' and the widowed housewife who times her english lover against the clock. Despite the cruelty and suffering he encountered, Norman Lewis writes in the diary, ‘A year among Italians has converted me to such an admiration for their humanity and culture that were I given the chance to be born again, Italy would be the country of my choice’.

Janina David was born in Poland in 1930, the only child of a middle-class Jewish family. She lost her parents during the war, spent two years in a children's home in France and emigrated to Australia in time for her 18th birthday. Eventually she was able to continue her education, graduating from Melbourne University in Social Studies. In 1958 she settled in England, and worked in various London hospitals as a social worker. In 1978 she left social work to become a full-time writer.

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