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A Sea Change

In May 1939, the S.S. St Louis left Hamburg for Havana carrying almost a thousand refugees from Hitler’s Germany. Over the following weeks, the ship criss-crossed the ocean, buffeted alternately by hope and disappointment, as it sought asylum in a friendly port and war drew inexorably closer. Based on actual events, Michael Arditti’s enthralling new novel is the memoir of one of the passengers, fifteen-year-old Karl, heir to a department-store fortune. In later life he recalls both the horror and excitement of the trip, along with his personal voyage of discovery, as he learns the truth about his family, battles Nazi crew members and plans a mutiny, and describes his first, passionate love affair with the beautiful young Johanna. A brilliant historical recreation, a captivating account of a Jewish boy’s coming-of-age and a tender love-story, A Sea Change is a profound and beautifully written novel by one of the country’s most original writers.

Important places

Hamburg (166)
Havana (107)


Ciudad de la Habana (108)
Hamburg (182)


Cuba (467)
Germany (3,818)

Other geographical areas

Greater Antilles (459)
West Indies (727)
South Atlantic Ocean (912)
Caribbean (1,955)
Small Island States (3,004)
North Atlantic Ocean (8,812)