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The Ragged Edge of Night

For fans of All the Light We Cannot See, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, and The Nightingale comes an emotionally gripping, beautifully written historical novel about extraordinary hope, redemption, and one man’s search for light during the darkest times of World War II.

Germany, 1942. Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann is stripped of his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet to wed Elisabeth Herter, a widow who seeks a marriage—in name only—to a man who can help raise her three children. Anton seeks something too—atonement for failing to protect his young students from the wrath of the Nazis. But neither he nor Elisabeth expects their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war.

As Anton struggles to adapt to the roles of husband and father, he learns of the Red Orchestra, an underground network of resisters plotting to assassinate Hitler. Despite Elisabeth’s reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. But when the SS discovers his schemes, Anton will embark on a final act of defiance that may cost him his life—even if it means saying goodbye to the family he has come to love more than he ever believed possible.

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My favorite types of heroes are unassuming, the ones you’d least expect to rise to the occasion or whose egos are anything but bloated. Perhaps that’s why I’m so moved by Anton Starzmann, the husband and father at the center of The Ragged Edge of Night.

Anton was a real person, the grandfather of author Olivia Hawker’s husband, a subject of much family lore. How could this man, a former Franciscan friar with a passion for music, have taken down the Nazis? Anton arrived in the German hamlet of Unterboihingen in 1942, worn but cautiously hopeful for what awaited him. His appearance was unremarkable, his demeanor was gentle, and his intent was to become a family man for widow Elisabeth Herter and her three young children. He was an unlikely hero, yet when the atrocities of World War II became too much to bear, Anton fought back with the tools he knew best. He became a key player in the Red Orchestra underground resistance and organized his own efforts to subvert the Nazis.

At a time when the state of the world feels so uncertain, we can all take inspiration from Anton—an ordinary person who took a stand, who found courage in the most trying of circumstances, who led with love and proved it prevails.


- Chris Werner, Editor

“Harrowing and yet life-affirming, told in the richest, most eloquent prose, The Ragged Edge of Night is one of the World War II novels that will stand out and be remembered.” —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child

“…Emotionally charged and beautifully written…Olivia Hawker shows that life can move forward and unexpected love can triumph, even when it strikes the most unlikely people during brutal years of conflict. This is an unusual story based on a true one, making it all the more fascinating and satisfying.” —Ann Howard Creel, bestselling author of The Whiskey Sea

“When the world is at war, can one person make a difference? This moving historical novel immerses readers in World War II-era Germany, where even small acts of resistance have terrible consequences…Eye-opening and ultimately inspiring.” —Elizabeth Blackwell, author of On a Cold Dark Sea

“Set in Nazi Germany, The Ragged Edge of the Night is a powerful story of a priest turned husband turned resistance leader. Hateful forces had grown so powerful that they destroyed a nation and were marching on to threaten the world. In the face of such power it would be easy to grow complacent and hopeless, but this story of a simple man making the difficult choice to fight for his deepest values reminds us of the best of humanity.” —Laila Ibrahim, author of Yellow Crocus

“An introspective, poignant voyage through one man’s struggle to reconcile his past. A beautifully written book highlighting the senseless choices that good people were forced to make.” —Gemma Liviero, bestselling author of Pastel Orphans and Broken Angels

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