The Linden Tree & the Legionnaire
A Latvian Tale of Blood and Treasure
Diana Mathur, Author
Kārlis Smiltens, Artist
Diana Mathur, MBA, is an American/Latvian-by-marriage. She writes The Linden Tree & the Legionnaire historical fiction series, which is set in 1940 Latvia. The series is inspired by the art and accounts of the late Corporal Kārlis Smiltens, the de facto War Artist of the Latvian Legion, the author’s uncle. Smiltens has donated over two hundred drawings and paintings to the Latvian War Museum in Riga.
The Linden Tree & the Legionnaire depicts the struggle of a family, and especially youth coming of age under the Russian occupation. Book I: Article 58, refers to the section of the Russian Criminal Code used to justify execution and cultural extinction. Book II: Witch Hammer likens Communist tactics to an ancient manual on how to interrogate and torture witches, and hints at the mystical force of Latvia’s forest lore. Book III: The Knock at Night, takes place on June 14, 1941, the night of mass deportations, and shows how brutal Soviet repressions made the country welcome the German army as liberators.
The books are available in two formats: short, quick reads for the Young Adult audience; and a 500 page volume entitled The Ghastly Year that includes all of Books I-III for the general fiction market.
Mathur researches primary sources in frequent travels to Latvia. She helped reclaim real property confiscated by Soviet-era communists and restore the family's antebellum country house in Ikškile, Vidzeme. Mathur has dug up treasure buried in Latvian soil for fifty years, and traveled the trans-Siberian railroad to what’s left of the gulag archipelago on the trail of Stalin-era deportees.
Diana Mathur is the 2019 President of the Southern California Chapter of the Historical Novel Society, and is active with the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society.
When not writing, Diana’s passion is dance. A member of Perkonitis Folk Dance Company (based at the Southern California Latvian Community Center in Los Angeles), she will perform at the North American Latvian Song Fest in Toronto this July.