Ilze Berzins
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Latvian-Canadian writer and artist Ilze Berzins is switching from mystery to biography.

Titled Portrait of a Latvian Beauty, the book through text and photographs tells the story of her mother, Ilze Henriete Berzinš (née Beldavs).

“The book centres on Beki, her grandparents’ country homestead near Talsi which she took over when her grandfather died,” Berzins said in an e-mail. “She has a degree in agronomy from the University of Latvia as does my father Voldemars Berzinš who predeceased my mother. Beki was a romantic idyll for my mother and affected how I saw Latvia back in 1995 when I too longed to savour the enchantment of Beki.”

The family, inlcuding the author, left Latvia in 1944 during the Second World War and eventually settled in Canada.

“Most photos were taken by my father who was deeply in love with his Greta Garbo look-alike bride,” Berzins said of the book.

Berzins’ mother died in June 2008.

“This is not an obit,” Berzins said, “but a testament of lasting beauty and the enduring courage of the Latvian spirit.”

Berzins penned the autobiographical Happy Girl in 1997, reporting on her impressions on attempting to repatriate to Latvia. She then turned to mysteries, writing a series of books either set in Latvia or involving Latvian characters. Her most recent book was Freedom, published in 2008.

Portrait of a Latvian Beauty is published by Albert Street Press.

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