The Last Green Valley

September 1, 2020

In late March 1944, as Stal­in’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Ade­line Mar­tel must make a ter­ri­ble deci­sion: Do they wait for the Sovi­et bear’s intru­sion and and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluc­tant­ly fol­low the wolves mur­der­ous Nazi offi­cers who have pledged to pro­tect pure-blood” Ger­mans? The Mar­tels are one of many fam­i­lies of Ger­man her­itage whose ances­tors have farmed in Ukraine for more than a cen­tu­ry. But after already liv­ing under Stalin’s hor­ri­fy­ing regime, Emil and Ade­line decide they must run in retreat from their land with the wolves they despise to escape the Sovi­ets and go in search of free­dom. Caught between two war­ring forces and over­com­ing hor­rif­ic tri­als to pur­sue their hope of immi­grat­ing to the West, the Mar­tels’ sto­ry is a bru­tal, com­plex, and ulti­mate­ly tri­umphant tale that illu­mi­nates the extra­or­di­nary pow­er of love, faith, and one family’s incred­i­ble will to sur­vive and see their dreams realized.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Ama­zon Publishing

  1. The Last Green Val­ley is a work of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, inspired by a true sto­ry. Do you feel that the sto­ry is authen­tic? How well do you think the author told a com­pelling sto­ry while also stick­ing to his­tor­i­cal facts?

  2. Have you or your fam­i­ly mem­bers lived through World War II? Have you or your fam­i­ly immi­grat­ed to the US? How do your mem­o­ries or fam­i­ly sto­ries reflect the emo­tions in this book?

  3. Giv­en the hard­ships the Mar­tels had already endured, what emo­tion­al reserves do you feel they had to call upon to remain hope­ful and stay on their trek to freedom?

  4. Rese almost dies after suf­fer­ing through a hor­rif­ic acci­dent. Emil almost starved to death and faced an unfor­giv­able ulti­ma­tum at gun­point. The fam­i­ly endures unimag­in­able per­il on their jour­ney and at the hands of the Nazis. What does it mean to be brave in the face of death?

  5. There is a moment when Major Hauss­mann helps Rese after her acci­dent. What do you think the author intend­ed by choos­ing to por­tray such an evil man in this light? How did you feel about Hauss­man­n’s action in con­trast with the ulti­ma­tum giv­en to Emil?

  6. Karo­line is some­times very cru­el to Ade­line, who is the moth­er of her grand­chil­dren. Why do you think this is? What do you think of their rec­on­cil­i­a­tion before they part ways?

  7. What are your thoughts on Cor­po­ral Ghe­o­rghe’s phi­los­o­phy of life and how it influ­ences Emil?

  8. When Emil and Ade­line are torn apart, what gives Ade­line the faith and strength to car­ry on? What makes her so sure they will be togeth­er again?

  9. What is your green valley”?