Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a typical English girl from a privileged background. I’ve been lucky, that way. I have loving parents and a charming younger sister — we adore each other. My parents call me Margaret, and recently my father started calling me “Princess” because my name is the same as the new baby at Buckingham Palace. But really, I prefer “Molly” — that’s what my friends and my sister call me.
My life has always been happy, except for last year when I discovered my fiancée was a bit of a bounder. But it turned out to be a good thing because the breakup gave me the courage to go to art school, something I’ve always wanted. I guess I’m not all that upper-class or conventional. Now I live with a friend in a two room flat in London, attend art classes, and go to parties. Next time I fall in love it won’t be with some guy who is the son of one of my parents’ friends.
What is your role in the story?
I guess you’d say I am Herman’s first love. I like him a lot too. I mean, how could you not? In spite of his German accent and being nervous around me, he is truly charming. I can see he is smitten with me, which makes a girl feel pretty and special. He’s not at all like the other boys and men I have known and so different from that cold cheater I was engaged to last year. I rather think Herman would be a good lover too. Of course, he will be leaving for America one day soon, but maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps I need a sweet fling to forget the disappointment of my fiancée. It can’t be bad to make a lonely man who has lost everything to the Nazis feel good. Maybe, next time I visit home, I’ll let Herman know how much I like him.
What is your favorite hobby?
When I was growing up, drawing and painting were my hobby. But now I am a serious art student and hope art will offer me a career —it will be difficult for me as a woman, but not impossible. So, now, especially this summer, my hobby is playing tennis with my sister.
What is the challenge you’re trying to overcome during the story?
I have been trying to improve my portrait-drawing skills because I didn’t do very well in that class last term. Herman has been a big help. But spending so much time with him has created another problem. I must not fall in love with him because he will be leaving England soon.
If you could make one wish, what would it be?
Must it be one wish only? If so, it would be to find a career in art and be successful. That would be amazing. But with the world heading pell-mell toward war, no one may be thinking of art for a while.
Title: Immigrant Soldier, The Story of a Ritchie Boy
Author: K. Lang-Slattery
Genre: Historical Fiction
Herman watches in horror as his cousin and a friend are arrested by the SA. As a Jew, he realizes it is past time to flee his homeland, a decision that catapults him from one adventure to another, his life changed forever by the storm of world events. Part coming-of-age story, part immigrant tale, part World War II adventure, Immigrant Soldier, The Story of a Ritchie Boy follows Herman as he evolves from a frightened and frustrated teenager looking for a place to belong into a confident and caring US Army Intelligence officer serving in the Third Army. The reader is swept along as the hero experiences fear, romance, loyalty, disappointment, friendship, and compassion in his quest for an understanding of hate and forgiveness.
Kathryn Lang Slattery is a published author of fiction and non-fiction for youth and has become an expert on many aspects of the Ritchie Boys of WWII.
Born during World War II and raised in 1950s Southern California, she enjoyed a childhood filled with reading, drawing, and long days at the beach. College took her to Los Angeles where she studied art and English at UCLA, earning a BFA. She then travelled to Mexico City where she did graduate work in art and education at the University of the Americas. The years afterward passed, filled with teaching art, English, and cooking, and traveling around the world, including a 2 year car trip through Central America, Europe, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. Later she returned to her hometown, where she raised a daughter and a son and devoted over 20 years to Girl Scouts as a volunteer. Finally she returned to her early love of writing, concentrating first on creating stories and articles for young people. She has been published in several highly rated magazines for the youth market, including Spider, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, Boys’ Life, and Faces.
Immigrant Soldier, The Story of a Ritchie Boy, her first adult novel, is based on her uncle’s World War II experiences. More than a decade spent researching, interviewing Ritchie Boys, and turning a true story into fiction became an odyssey of discovery. “I wanted to tell his story,” she says, “because it was different from any other Holocaust story I had read. The young Jewish hero is not a victim, but a young man who gradually grows from a frightened and frustrated teenager, looking for a place to belong, into a confident US Army Intelligence officer who struggles with the conflicting emotions of hate and forgiveness.”
Kathryn lives in Laguna Beach, California, only steps from her childhood home, where she is surrounded by trees, birds, and her vegetable garden. Besides writing, her main interests are travel to foreign places, creative gourmet cooking, pastel painting, and time with family and friends. She finds tranquillity simply by looking out her large living-room windows to her view of one tall sycamore, her lush garden, and the natural hillsides beyond.