Out of the Red Shadow Summary
Out of the Red Shadow, winner of the Christy Award 2000 for international historical fiction, is the third and concluding novel of Anne de Graaf’s The Hidden Harvest. Set in Cold War Poland, the political turmoil of the country is echoed in the emotional upheaval in the lives of Jacek Duch and his daughter’s family and illustrated through a perspective that shifts from Jacek to Tomek (later Tomasz) Piekarz, his sister anetka, and Piotr Piekarz, their uncle.
Jacek’s perspective provides the frame for the narrative, starting from his unexpected meeting with the daughter he has for years believed dead. Long an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Jacek feels his position in the Suba Bezpieczestwa (SB) has become imperiled. In an effort to deflect attention from himself, he has initiated a surveillance campaign spying on the minority Protestant population to jeopardize the growing Solidarno movement. Amy is now an adult and married to Jan Piekarz, son of Tadeusz Piekarz, a Protestant minister who discovered Jacek’s identity during World War II but kept it secret all these years. Because of their religious affiliation, the family has been caught in the SB’s surveillance, and Jacek must destroy the tapes of their conversations that reveal his own identity in a conversation with the “outlaw” Jacek discovers is Piotr Piekarz, Amy’s brother-in-law and former lover. As part of his plan to protect Amy and her family, Jacek decides Piotr, a Solidarno leader and the only person who knows of Jacek’s relationship to Amy once his father, Tadeusz, dies, must be eliminated. As a result of Jacek’s tip to the SB, Piotr is arrested.
After Jacek is nearly arrested by the Americans for an attempted assassination on the life of President Jimmy Carter, he goes into hiding from both the SB and the CIA. He sets himself up in an apartment near Amy and her family in Gdask, so he can begin getting to know them, if only from a distance. A chance encounter with her son, Tomek, cements his need to feel close to them.
Tomek and anetka reveal the internal life of a family in which the children must grow up too quickly. The story of their uncle Piotr’s wedding and arrest are related through Tomek’s perspective and supplemented by Piotr’s own letters, written to Amy and Jan from prison, in which he reflects on his loveless marriage to Halina and his commitment to the Solidarno cause. As Tomek grows up, his relationship with his parents becomes increasingly strained; he rejects his father, suggesting that Piotr should have been his father instead of Jan.
anetka struggles to fit in at school as she grow up, learning from the troubles within her family. Uncle Piotr has been imprisoned for some time; his whereabouts were unknown until one day when Jan discovers where he is being held. Amy sets off to see him, taking Gonia with her. Through anetka we learn of four-year-old Gonia’s death from falling down a staircase at the prison during a brief moment when Amy and Piotr are alone and momentarily distracted by a whisper of their former romance. The grief in the family is terrible and shortly compounded by Tomasz’s decision to run away. After an especially brutal argument with his father, Tomasz leaves Gdask, hitchhiking to the West and making his way to Berlin, where very quickly he descends to a life of uncertainty, crime, drugs, and desperation on the streets.
Back in Gdask, Tomasz’s frantic family...
(The entire section is 897 words.)