At 22, the war is over for RAF serviceman Harry Leslie Smith - author of the acclaimed Harry's Last Stand - but the battle for love and hope rages on.
Stationed in occupied Hamburg, a city physically and emotionally ripped apart by Allied bombing, and determined to escape grinding poverty of his Yorkshire youth, Harry unexpectedly finds a reason to stay: a young German woman by the name of Friede.
Their love develops uneasily, but gradually they win each other's trust, Harry taking on the responsibility of finding food for Friede's near-destitute family. But they must face both German suspicion and British disapproval of relations with "the enemy".
Presenting a street-level view of a city reduced to rubble, populated with refugees, black marketeers, corrupt businessmen and cynical soldiers, Love Among the Ruins is a unique snapshot of a terrible period in Europe's history, a passionate love letter to a city, to a woman, and to life itself. Harry Leslie Smith's Guardian articles have been shared almost a quarter of a million times on Facebook and have attracted huge comment and debate.
This is the perfect real life tale of love transcending every adversity. I read at after reading Harry's last stand, and like that book too, I was hooked on every word.
Harry Smith is now one of my imaginary dream dinner party guests, I would love to meet him, but, as that is highly unlikely, I would like him to know that I think he is a remarkable individual, a talented writer and an all round good egg. I hope he gets his dream of seeing a fair and equal Britain, where us ordinary folk can find work to live in less deprivation with our loved ones and bring up our children in a country where healthcare is free and we have roofs over our heads.
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