FeaturedHistorical Fiction

SUNFLOWERS UNDER FIRE

By

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A well-researched and well-told story of family, country, love, and above all, survival. Worth taking the journey with this family.

The year is 1915. Lukia is a Ukrainian wife and mother whose husband Gregory is leaving to fight in World War I; he informs her of this just after she has given birth to their eighth (sixth still living) child, and he leaves for battle almost immediately afterwards. With the eldest of her children still in their early teens, Lukia knows she must do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. This opening sequence of events sets the scene, and indeed the tone, for the rest of this compelling story. This is a story about family, faith, farmland, emotional endurance in the hardest of times, and the importance of good neighbors—without being Ukrainian myself, I now feel much closer to understanding what it means to be Ukrainian.


This story is well-researched and well-told. Diana Stevan masterfully weaves together the history of her family, the history of Eastern Europe during World War I and the rise of the Bolsheviks, and her own imagination. I immensely enjoyed the small historical details she included, such as the rumors Lukia periodically heard about the Romanov family, and traditional Ukrainian wedding customs; the story was as much about the country as it was about Lukia’s family. Stevan brings to life an era that feels ages and worlds apart from the modern day, even though most of these events took place fewer than one hundred years ago—events that have echoed through subsequent generations.


Without giving away too much, I will say that it takes a fair amount of emotional endurance to read this book, as readers will get attached to these characters, and these characters suffer immeasurably. Any sympathetic (or empathetic) suffering the reader does on the characters’ behalf is because many of the characters are likable, and it’s well worth taking the journey with this family. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in any of the following: strong female characters, World War I, Eastern European history and culture, historical fiction, and/or stories about family.

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As a copywriter and editor, I believe in the importance of human connection and the beauty in how we communicate. I work with clients in all stages of writing, from brainstorming to polishing. In my spare time, I run, read, and look for cheap international flights.

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About the author

Described as a Renaissance woman, she's worked as a psychotherapist, teacher, actor, model and TV sports reporter. She's published poetry, a short story, a novelette and three novels: A Cry from the Deep, The Rubber Fence, and Sunflowers Under Fire. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island. view profile

Published on April 08, 2019

Published by

90000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by