Gala opera evenings. Sudden wealth and fame. Dangerous undercover missions into the heart of Nazi Germany. Standing up to the perils of the Blitz. No one would have predicted such glamorous and daring lives for Ida and Louise Cooktwo decidedly ordinary Englishwomen who came of age between the wars and seemed destined never to stray from their quiet London suburb and comfortable civil service jobs. Read more...
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Gala opera evenings. Sudden wealth and fame. Dangerous undercover missions into the heart of Nazi Germany. Standing up to the perils of the Blitz. No one would have predicted such glamorous and daring lives for Ida and Louise Cooktwo decidedly ordinary Englishwomen who came of age between the wars and seemed destined never to stray from their quiet London suburb and comfortable civil service jobs. But in 1923 a chance hearing of an aria from Madame Butterfly sparked a passion in the sisters that became a vehicle for both their greatest happiness and the rescue of dozens of Jews facing persecution and death.
Safe Passage is one of the most unusual and inspiring accounts to come out of the cataclysm of World War II. First published in 1950, Ida's memoir of the adventures she and Louise shared remains as fresh, vital and entertaining as the woman who wrote it. The Cook sisters' zest for life and genuine "goodness" shines through every page and explains why the leading opera singers of their day befriended and loved them. Even when Ida began to earn thousands as a successful romance novelist, the sisters never departed from their homespun virtues of thrift, hard work, self-sacrifice and unwavering moral conviction. They sewed their own clothes, traveled third class, bought the cheapest tickets during opera season and directed every spare resource, as well as their own considerable courage and ingenuity, toward saving as many people as they could from Hitler's death camps.
Uplifting and utterly charming, Safe Passage is moving testimony to all that can be achieved when conscience and compassion are applied to a collapsing world.
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Under the pseudonym Mary Burchell, UK novelist Cook (1904-1986) wrote more than 100 novels in addition to this enchanting memoir, first published in 1950 as We Followed Our Stars. This reprint of the updated 1976 version features a new foreword by scholar Anne Sebba, and the charming, harrowing tale of the Cook sisters, Ida and Louise, whose holiday from their suburban London home to the United States and Western Europe turns from a music lover's grand tour into an international mission to save Jews from the Nazis. Passionate music fans, the Cook sisters' first foray into the world brought them into contact not just with operatic luminaries but the harsh realities of a world on the brink. With ingenuity, boundless optimism and the will to risk their lives, the Cook sisters smuggle jewels to fund the release of Jews about to be shipped to concentration camps and set up networks of satellite families for displaced Jews in safe nations. Pocked with heart-stopping moments-close calls and reunited families rank high-this lovingly written true story shines a light through one of humanity's darkest chapters.
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