The Dragontail Buttonhole by Peter Curtis

dragontail buttonhole

Some History: During WWll, Peter's refugee family arrived in London at the start of the Blitz. Their small flat was destroyed by an incendiary and he ended up on a farm in Shropshire. Peter trained at Guys Hospital. After retirement, he decided to write a story about his family, a story that has resonance  once more with the immigrant crisis in Europe.

The Novel: The Dragontail Buttonhole, the first volume of a trilogy about a Czechoslovak family in WWll is based on his family’s letters and documents, stories and photographs. He has tried to recreate the atmosphere of those times; the fear, courage and resilience engulfing a young family suddenly dispossessed and fleeing west for survival—the decisions they made and how they changed.

The Story: In early 1938, Willy Kohut, a cultured 26 year-old Jewish clothier opens a store in Prague selling luxury British fabrics for tailoring men’s suits. His attractive 23 year old Hungarian wife Sophie is mother to an 18-month old boy, Pavel. As the business grows the Kohuts enjoy a rich social and cultural life. After the Munich crisis, when the Sudeten part of Czechoslovakia is handed to Germany, Willy comes to his senses and prepares to sell his business and leave. As a precaution, he acquires counterfeit Hungarian passports, essential for traveling outside the country.  Too late! On March 15th 1939, the Germans invade Czechoslovakia and occupy Prague. On the very same morning, Willy is arrested by a special Nazi unit and accused of being a British spy.

With Willy’s arrest, Sophie’s world is turned upside down. She has to take charge of the business, keep her home going and find her husband. She discovers Willy is in Pancrác prison and persuades the German commandant that her husband is innocent. As Willy recovers at home another disaster strikes. Under a new law directed at Jews, he is summoned to his bank and forced to sign over his store and possessions to a pro-German merchant. The young Czech family’s love and resilience are severely tested as they flee for safety on a dangerous and chaotic journey through Europe.

The Dragontail Buttonhole is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and a wide range of on-line platforms.

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