A story of hope, heartbreak, and perseverance

Angela Miller-Rothbart signs a copy of her book.

When Sea Point resident Angela Miller-Rothbart started writing her debut novel, The Lightness of Air, it was not with the intention of actually writing a book.

It started out as a hobby but as the writing continued it blossomed into a narrative worth publishing.

In fact, it was only after her friend Henia Bryer, to whom the book is dedicated, encouraged her, that she pursued this dream.

“The story is inspired by a Holocaust survivor I met 10 years ago. We spoke regularly, and still speak often, and even during lockdown we kept on talking and this book is dedicated to her. She is 96 years old and one of the last Holocaust survivors.

“I was writing stories for the writing group and when I read parts of the book to Henia, she said publish this,” Ms Miller-Rothbart, 77, said.

Ms Miller-Rothbart joined the Friendship Writing Group of Camps Bay after retirement and was simply enjoying her new passion.

“I was living my dream after retirement,” she said. “I love the arts, reading and writing. I did have doubts when I started this journey (writing the book) but I loved it and that is why I did not stop,” she said.

“I don’t feel old or anything like that. I feel like I’m in the bloom of my youth. Old is just a word. I may have lived a long time and I still have lots to do and I’m going to do it,” she added.

“If you put your mind to what you want to do then you can do it, as long as you have determination then it will be successful. Life has ups and downs but you got to get up and do it.”

The story takes you from Poland to France, America and finally South Africa, focusing on the life of Helena Jablonski, her family and friends. The author gives you a glimpse into the lives of individuals close to Helena, and the influence they have had on her life.

The main theme is the persistence of seeking humanity and the author touches on the Holocaust, war, friendship, death and love.

While the characters are fictional, the events are very much true to the writer and those who inspired the novel.

Ms Miller-Rothbart , born and raised in Paarl, said the writing process was therapeutic as it touched on events that she had experienced.