By: Cathy Raymond
Publication Date: June 2015
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 2016
Cathy Raymond connects the lives of two exceptional women via the conduit of music and pens a bittersweet novel rife with heart-felt emotion.
Professor Emily Thurgood is devoted to her study of the music created and performed in Nazi camps during the Holocaust. Anna Katz is her subject and Emily’s task is to pay proper homage to the woman who was held captive as a prisoner in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp. The story begins in 1942 and the dismal scene unfolds with Anna listening to the howling wind outside her barracks. She arrived three months prior from Prague and the only tangible possessions she owned were the tattered clothes on her back and the threadbare blanket that did a formidable job of keeping her warm at night. Unlike her bunkmates, however, Anna had a treasure. She had her love of music and the ability to compose melodies she locked deep within her soul. Nobody could ever take that away from her.
Moving forward to 2014, Professor Thurgood’s thoughts race through her mind. She is preparing a lecture on Felix Steinitz and his musical writings from the concentration camp, Terezin. As she makes her way across the frozen tundra of the Wisconsin college campus, she is agitated. How is it she has all the facts committed to her mind, yet when she plays them out on paper, they are a jumbled mess? To compound her angst, she is supposed to meet boyfriend, Brian, for dinner at Chez Nous and has come to the realization that it’s not going to happen...again. She pondered their quirky relationship. They couldn’t be more opposite, yet, they had been together for nearly ten months. Brian was rigid. Emily had depth. Perhaps when she finished her latest project, she would make more of an effort in their relationship. What Emily couldn’t know, however, is once she immersed herself into the work of Steinitz, Anna Katz would come to life. The outcome would change Emily’s life in ways she could never have imagined.
Congratulations to 2016 Feathered Quill Silver Award recipient, Cathy Raymond. It is no surprise this author received such an honorable award for her compelling and haunting Sing What You Cannot Say. There are a little over 100 pages in this story, yet the depth and emotion that resonates from each page seeps into the very soul of the reader. The Holocaust is a period of time that lives on in historical infamy. Ms. Raymond captures the essence of its terror, trauma, inhumanity and degradation superbly through the voice of her character, Anna Katz. I applaud Raymond’s fearless embrace of this egregious era. Her tone is a resounding strength from one page to the next. This is the gift of a true writer and a fine example of how to get it down on paper, discard endless (and unnecessary) pontification and deliver her audience to a brilliant and beautiful ending. Raymond has created a memory in this body of work that solidifies yet another example of how we must never forget and be grateful for the life we have. Well done Ms. Raymond. This is a truly beautiful story.
Quill says: Sing What You Cannot Say is a lovely bouquet of hope and inspiration.