TWG is delighted to share an extract from ‘Hotel on Shadow Lake’ by Daniela Tully as part of the blog tour organised by Legend Press.
When Maya was a girl, her grandmother
was everything to her: teller of magical fairy
tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then her
grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving
Maya with only questions to fill the void.
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is
found in a place she had no connection to. Desperate
for answers, Maya begins to unravel secrets that go back
decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and
But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies
in order to uncover what happened, she must decide
whether her life, and a chance at love, are worth risking
for the truth.
Martha Wiesberg was a woman of strict routine: Sunday,
church; Monday, lunch with her neighbor; Tuesday, book
club; Wednesday, laundry press; Thursday, aerobics—all at
exactly the same time each week. Even a slight deviation was
destructive to people like Martha. She needed routine like air
to breathe. Only those who knew her very well—and they
were far and few—knew why: it was her way of numbing her
mind, of silencing the past and calming the voices that would
remind her that life could have been so different, if only…
It was four thirty in the afternoon. The sunlight was fading
slowly, the way it does when the cold of early autumn starts to
creep in. Martha had just fixed herself her daily afternoon cup
of coffee (decaf), sat down with her daily crossword puzzle,
and put on the television to watch her daily show. But her show
wasn’t on. Instead, a special program in honor of Germany’s
recently created Tag der Deutschen Einheit, “German Unity
Day,” was airing. Martha immediately switched off the TV.
The silence in the room engulfed her like a dark blanket,
allowing the voices in her head to become louder. This time
it wasn’t simply the interruption of routine that got to her;
it was the most recent milestone in Germany’s history: the
reunification. Most of the population seemed happy about
it, chatting about it in interviews on the TV, about what had
caused the separation in the first place: the war, a dark chapter.
For her part, Martha had moved on, or so she liked to think. But
of course, there were the memories. Her mind was just about
to dive deeper into that muddy lake of painful remembrances
when the doorbell rang and jolted her from her thoughts.
Martha opened the door and stared into the face of her
postman, who had been delivering the mail to her for over ten
years. The setting sun was breaking through the heavy clouds
one last time, providing a backlight that gave him an almost
“Grüß Gott, Frau Wiesberg,” he said with a nervous smile.
Martha had never liked that salutation. Greet God? Okay!
She sang to herself, I will when I see him! She had always felt
a bit out of place in Munich. She was a Zugereiste, after all,
an “outsider” not born there.
“This is for you,” the postman said with outstretched arms.
Martha had never been too fond of him, partly because she
suspected that he was reading her mail, as letters would often
arrive torn open on the side. His curiosity, too, had become a
staple in her diet of routine.
Martha took the letter, wondering why the man had
bothered to ring the doorbell rather than simply leave the
letter in her mailbox. She was about to close the door when
he gently tugged her back.
“Well, in the name of the German Federal Postal Services,
we would like to apologize very much for the delay.”
Confused, Martha studied the envelope, which had been—
or appeared to have been—ripped open by the transport, the
letter sticking out one side. Adolf’s face in the upper right
corner looked out at her sternly. She brought the envelope
closer to her eyes. The postmark read December 27, 1944.
“Are you joking?” she asked, and looked up at him.
“No, Frau Wiesberg, believe me, you are not the only one.
There are a couple of others who have also been affected.”
She gazed down again at the envelope, chills running up
her arms. “Affected by what?”
“The wall?” he said, surprised. “This letter was held up,
and,” he started to explain, “now that the wall has come
down, it finally found its way to you.”
Martha was still staring at the letter when it slowly began
to dawn on her.
“The German Post will of course not charge you any
delivery fee.” He giggled, and Martha glared at him.
“I mean the German Post stopped charging so little postage
a long time ago,” he went on.
“I understood that the first time. I just don’t find it at all
funny,” she told him.
The grin on his face died suddenly, and he shuffled his
feet nervously. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Martha asked impatiently.
“No, no. Have a great day.”
He was about to turn around when Martha heard him
mumble something else.
“What now?” she barked.
“Who is Wolfgang Wiesberg?” Martha slammed the door.
Leaning against the inside of the door, she shut her eyes.
She felt like a huge wave was breaking over her. Memories
were flowing back into her mind, making her dizzy.
She stared at the handwriting on the envelope. Wolfgang
Wiesberg. Her twin brother. How she had suffered when she
and Mother had been informed of his death, when the war
had ended. Yet she and Wolfgang hadn’t been close at the
end. In fact, she had probably wished his death at some point.
What was there to say, forty-six years later? Whatever was
in that letter couldn’t turn back time, couldn’t bring back the
love that life had held in store for her only to have cruelly
snatched it away.
I don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember, I don’t
want to remember, she told herself over and over again, like
a mantra. Martha started to tremble uncontrollably. She had
always known that the secrets were only sleeping. Now they
had finally woken up and come back to haunt her.