Daniela Petrova is a force of nature. There is no other way to explain the impossible feat she has accomplished — nor the beautiful book she has written.
Born in Bulgaria when it was still under Communist rule, she was the first in her hardscrabble family to graduate from high school. Then she dropped out of college to marry a young American who was a doorman in New York City. So she began life in this New World living in a basement apartment, speaking poor English, with a drop-out husband who was in debt for unpaid college loans. One imagines a raggedy Cinderella sitting among pumpkins and field mice.
But she was a Cinderella who had always wanted to write. She was always jotting down poems and short stories as a youngster. But now trying to do the same in English was impossible. Yet she was a very determined young woman. She wanted to go back to college, but that would cost serious money. So Daniela started taking any job she could find. She was a nanny, cleaning lady, cook or whatever else was needed. She took free ESL classes at the YMCA to improve her English. She re-read books like War and Peace in English which she had read as a teenager in Bulgarian. But it was all a struggle from morning to night.
Then something happened. She was cleaning the apartment of a gentleman who had connections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He arranged for her to get a volunteer position there. That led to a part-time job in their library, and she was on her way. Daniela learned to use a computer, Microsoft Word and the internet. That led to a full-time job at the Columbia University library — and the incredible benefit that came with this job. She could take two free classes at Columbia each semester. Before long, Daniela wrapped up the college degree she had always wanted.
Unable to stop, she earned a graduate degree and became a therapist. But she also kept writing. And now, many years later, the impossible has happened. Daniela’s first novel, Her Daughter’s Mother, has been published by a prestigious New York publishing house.
And it is not just a novel. It is a book so beautifully written, so crisp with details and feelings, that one cannot imagine the writer ever lived with any language other than the one in which she has wrought such a memorable work.
The pumpkin has become a carriage, the field mice are footmen, and a magical time has begun. It is reasonable to expect there will be many more of these exquisite thrillers from Daniela Petrova.