Max Kromer, a fourteen year old boy, relates the horrors of the Siege of Strasbourg in this work of historical fiction. The actual siege, during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, consisted of surrounding the city and then bombing and starving the inhabitants, until they surrendered. In this story, Max and his sister Sylvie, went to their grandmother's house in Strasbourg while their father traveled. It was quite unknown to them they would have to endure six weeks of "the dreadful noise of the war." They looked to God for answers. An important verse is John 14:18-I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.""
The Baroness Volterra drove to the Palazzo Conti in the heart of Rome at nine o'clock in the morning, to be sure of finding Donna Clementina at home. She had tried twice to telephone, on the previous afternoon, but the central office had answered that "the communication was interrupted." She was very anxious to see Clementina at once, in order to get her support for a new and complicated charity. She only wanted the name, and expected nothing else, for the Conti had very little ready money, though they still lived as if they were rich. This did not matter to their friends, but was a source of constant anxiety to their creditors, and to the good Pompeo Sassi, the steward of the ruined estate. He alone knew what the Conti owed, for none of them knew much about it themselves, though he had done his best to make the state of things clear to them.
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