THE LAST GREEN VALLEY by Mark Sullivan

From the publisher:

From the author of the #1 bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a new historical novel inspired by one family’s incredible story of daring, survival, and triumph.

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 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.


In an afterward to this book, Mark Sullivan indicates that it is an account of the vicissitudes of a real family living through one the most horrific periods to ever have faced human beings. The novel is more than a compelling read; it is an adventure into emotion that crosses between hope and despair bringing to life the resiliency of an extraordinary family. 

The Martels are people with roots in Germany that have emigrated into the Ukraine in order to enjoy a better life. Making a life there the transplanted colony suddenly becomes caught up in war when Germany invades Russia during World War II.       

The slaughter of both the Russian and German armies at the battle for Stalingrad causes the Germanic residents of the Ukraine to flee the Russian army which goes after the Wehrmacht in order to destroy them. The Germans tell the transplants to pack up and leave with them to try and make it back to Germany before Stalin, the Russian leader moves his army to slaughter them. The Wehrmacht offers protection and food during the escape. Emil and Adeline Martel and their two sons are among the group leaving their home to escape with their lives.  It is their story that Mark Sullivan celebrates. The fleeing group are subjected to being caught up with the running battles of both armies. They narrowly escape being killed by tanks of both armies fighting each other and not looking to see if civilians are in the way of their shells.     

The Martels are strengthened by a vision they hold of coming at last to live in a beautiful Green valley where they can enjoy peace and the tranquility of life together and with their family. The events of their travel could normally crush the spirit of anyone but in a memorable accounting of what befalls them Mark Sullivan does an excellent job of painting a picture of the triumph of the human spirit. The reader will not be able to lay down the book until finished and know that they have read a superb story and an extremely well told one that will stay with them for a long time.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE LAST GREEN VALLEY by Mark Sullivan. Lake Union Publishing (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1503958746. 457 pages.

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