Only the Brave: A Novel

Only the Brave: A Novel

by Danielle Steel
Only the Brave: A Novel

Only the Brave: A Novel

by Danielle Steel


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Notes From Your Bookseller

Danielle Steel is back with her universal brand of historical fiction, putting one incredible female protagonist up against the daunting landscape of WWII Germany. Offsetting the devastation and death of the conflict with the hope to keep going, this is another touching addition to the Steel literary empire.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel comes a powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Sophia Alexander, the beautiful daughter of a famous surgeon in Berlin, has had to grow up faster than most young women. When her mother falls ill, Sophia must take charge of her younger sister, Theresa, and look after her father and the household, while also volunteering at his hospital after school. Meanwhile, Hitler’s rise to power and the violence in her very own town have Sophia concerned, but only her mother is willing to share her fears openly.

After tragedy strikes and her mother dies, Sophia becomes increasingly involved in the resistance, attending meetings of dissidents and helping however she can. Circumstances become increasingly dangerous and personal when Sophia assists her sister’s daring escape from Germany, as Theresa flees with her young husband and his family. Her father also begins to resist the regime, secretly healing those hiding from persecution, only to have his hospital burned to the ground. When he is arrested and sent to a concentration camp, Sophia is truly on her own, but more determined than ever to help.

While working as a nurse with the convent nuns, the Sisters of Mercy, Sophia continues her harrowing efforts to transport Jewish children to safety and finds herself under surveillance. As the political tensions rise and the brutal oppression continues, Sophia is undeterred, risking it all, even her own freedom, as she rises to the challenge of helping those in need—no matter the cost.

In Only the Brave, Danielle Steel vividly captures the devastating effects of war alongside beautiful moments of compassion and courage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593498439
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/30/2024
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,663
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s bestselling authors, with a billion copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Without a Trace, The Whittiers, The High Notes, The Challenge, Suspects, Beautiful, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Expect a Miracle, a book of her favorite quotations for inspiration and comfort; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children’s books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1947

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Even at eighteen, in 1937, Sophia Alexander knew that things in Germany had changed in the past four years since the Nazis had come to power. There had been many changes in her life too, although her family was not Jewish. They were defined now as “Aryan.” These days, with even one Jewish grandparent, whether by faith or origin, a person was considered non-­Aryan.

Sophia’s life in Berlin had altered dramatically ever since her mother fell ill with tuberculosis when she was sixteen, two years earlier. She had been cared for at home for the first year of her illness and was now in a sanatorium for people with tuberculosis. Sophia visited her several times a week. Her younger sister Theresa, sixteen now, went to see her less often, and her father was so busy he hardly had time to visit. Sophia was the family member who went the most frequently. She was a serious student, but always made time to see her mother, as often as she could. Sophia and Theresa went to the same school. Sophia was in the final months of high school, and Theresa had two more years after this one and hated every moment she spent in class. Sophia was a star student.

Their mother, Monika Alexander, was a gentle person, and had always had fragile health. She was a delicate beauty, and adored her daughters. Sophia had long, serious talks with her, and often read to her, as her mother lay in her bed with her eyes closed until she fell asleep, and then Sophia would leave. As soon as her mother was taken to the sanatorium, Sophia had promised her that she would take care of her sister and father, and she had kept her promise and grown up quickly. When she turned eighteen, she had learned to drive. Her father let her use the car, which made Sophia’s visits easier, since the sanatorium was outside the city.

Sophia’s father, Thomas Alexander, was a famous surgeon, and had his own private hospital. People came to see him for complicated procedures from all over Europe. He practiced general surgery and was highly skilled. It frustrated him that he couldn’t cure his wife, but with rest and the medicines available to them, he was hoping she would have a full recovery. Sophia was worried about her. Her mother seemed so frail. She slept a great deal but awoke with delight when her oldest daughter was visiting her, which she did faithfully.

At home, Sophia had taken full charge of her sister, who needed a strong hand to manage her. Theresa took full advantage of how busy their father was and her mother’s absence to flirt with every man who crossed her path. Men seemed to fall at her feet like ripe apples, much to her older sister’s amazement. Sophia had always been shy, like her mother. She was a dark-­haired beauty with huge green eyes, and always looked serious. The men who pursued Theresa didn’t notice Sophia, and she wasn’t a flirt. If one looked closely, Sophia was in fact more beautiful. She had perfect aristocratic features, a long, graceful neck, and elegant posture. Theresa’s looks were showier and caught one’s attention faster. She had almost white blond hair like their mother, translucent porcelain-­white skin, which she dusted with powder, full red lips, and brilliant blue eyes the color of a summer sky. She had a wide, instant smile, perfect teeth, and a sensuous figure. She always looked like she was about to laugh. She teased the boys she knew relentlessly. Her long blond hair fell in thick waves. Sophia’s shining dark hair fell straight past her shoulders. She had a slim build like her father, and she kept a stern eye on her sister, as she had promised their mother. She kept her on a short leash and Theresa complained about it constantly.

Theresa meant no harm with her flirting and enticing laughter, and she had little awareness that her natural sexiness was an aphrodisiac to the men who wanted her. Her father assumed it was all harmless and would come to nothing. Sophia wasn’t as sure. Their mother thought that Theresa should marry early before she got into more mischief than she could handle. She would need a strong husband to control her. But at sixteen she was still too young to be considered marriage material, and had to finish school. So Sophia played watchdog at the palace gates, waiting for their mother’s return, and she hoped it would be soon.

It had been a long year for all of them without Monika, particularly for Sophia. Theresa was enjoying it, although she missed her mother too. She loved to go dancing, and to parties, but her opportunities were limited due to her age. Their parents had stopped entertaining when Monika got sick. Before that, there had been many elegant dinner parties at their home, filled with women in beautiful evening gowns. Theresa crept into her mother’s dressing room sometimes and tried on her mother’s gowns. When Sophia found her doing it, she scolded her soundly.

“That’s Mama’s! Take it off immediately! You’ll tear it.” Several of their mother’s most beautiful dresses had been made for her in Paris, others by dressmakers in Berlin. As the wife of the most important surgeon in Berlin, they were invited everywhere, to the most dazzling events. Thomas Alexander was greatly respected. Sophia had loved watching her parents dance with each other, when they gave formal dinner parties at home for important guests.

She knew her father loved his wife very much, but his work kept him from visiting her as often as he wished. Sophia wanted to help him too, and aside from running the house for him now, she worked as a volunteer in his hospital after school and on weekends, after she finished her studies. Her father marveled at how efficient she was, how bright and how dedicated. She had a talent for nursing. Sophia said she would become a nurse one day and work for him in the operating theater. Theresa just wanted to get married and have babies. She hadn’t met her future husband yet, but she enjoyed all the attention men lavished on her, as they flew around her like bees approaching a beautiful flower. No one could resist her, and she loved it.

Theresa had no real interest in the boys in school, but flirted with them too. She had an easy way with men, which they found enchanting. Sophia was harder to talk to. She was serious, and spoke to them of important subjects which required them to think rather than just admire her. She spoke of recent medical discoveries, her father’s flawless surgical techniques, books she had read on many topics, which usually didn’t interest most men, or she spoke of the political unrest in Germany for the past few years. Her father had cautioned her several times not to engage in discussions about politics. It was a sensitive subject in Germany now, with the strengthening of the Nazi party in the last four years. Adolf Hitler had become Führer three years before, in 1934. Privately, Thomas didn’t admire his zeal, but he kept his opinions to himself, and was busy with his private clinic. He had operated on several members of the Nazi High Command and had met the Führer himself, but what interested Thomas Alexander was medicine, not politics.

The changes in Germany had troubled Sophia for several years, even before her mother got sick. People with even partial Jewish origins had been singled out and discriminated against. In the beginning, in 1933, when Sophia was fourteen, Jews were suddenly barred from being teachers, professors, judges, or civil servants, and many had lost their jobs. Several of the teachers at her school had quietly disappeared without saying goodbye, which made her suddenly aware of what was going on. Months later, people of Jewish faith or origin were excluded from the arts, then from owning land, and were forbidden from being journalists or newspaper editors. All within a year. And by the end of 1933, homeless and unemployed people were sent to concentration camps that were being opened near Munich. Dachau had opened in 1933, Sachsenhausen, close to Berlin in 1936, and Buchenwald a year later in 1937. No one spoke of it openly, but one heard about it in whispers. A girl in her class had told her. She had heard her journalist uncle talking about it with her father, and they thought the camps were a good idea to get undesirable elements of the population off the streets, which was the Nazis’ intention.

By the following year, in 1934, when Sophia was fifteen, she learned that Jews were denied health insurance, and prohibited from becoming lawyers. And the year after Hitler became Führer in 1934, when Sophia was sixteen, Jews were banned from the military. They lost their citizenship and could no longer marry Aryans. A few months before, they had been forbidden to work as accountants or dentists. The list of professions they were not allowed to engage in grew longer every day. Sophia’s father had to find the family a new dentist when theirs left Germany, saying that this was only the beginning of worse things to come, which her father thought was an extreme point of view.

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