It is Warsaw in 1939, and Elżunia is an indulged teenager dreaming of heroism and romance. But when war breaks out, her illusions are shattered. As bombs fall, she meets Adam, a taciturn airman who becomes an activist in the Polish Underground, and later flies bombers for the RAF. Meanwhile, in occupied Warsaw, Elżunia discovers her own strength in ways she never imagined.

Nocturne is the story of two people whose relationships are played out against the turbulent events of the Second World War in Poland and England. It is a story of doomed heroism and moral triumph in the face of cruelty and betrayal. It is also a story of redemption through love.

Drawing on her extensive research and her own experiences as a child during the war in Poland, Diane has recreated the tension, confusion and terror of civilians when their lives are on the line and their humanity is put to the test.

Some of the characters in Nocturne were inspired by real people. One of them was the remarkable Australian nursing sister, Muriel Knox Doherty, who was placed in charge of the hospital set up in the grounds of the Belsen-Bergen concentration camp. Another was the heroic Underground courier Jan Karski who tried to change the course of history by alerting Allied leaders about the genocide in Poland.

Gripping, dramatic and poignant, Nocturne explores the complexity of human nature through the choices people make when they must choose between honour and survival.

Awards & Nominations

In 2008 Nocturne won the Society of Women Writers’ Biennial Fiction Award. That year Diane was nominated for a major Polish literary award, for writing what the Polish Ambassador to Australia described as ‘the best novel ever written about the Warsaw Resistance by an author outside Poland’.

Praise for Nocturne

Like Geraldine Brooks, Diane Armstrong’s historical research is expertly woven into the fabric of a fictional tale, providing an engrossing `faction’ of heroism and resilience which will appeal to both fans of fictional dramatic/romantic sagas, as well as lovers of insightful history

Australian Bookseller & Publisher

Easy reading, racy… Diane Armstrong’s Nocturne is in the category of blockbuster with extra heart. The stories of the role played by young women in the Warsaw revolt are extraordinary. Through her central character, Elzunia, she explicitly points the story with resonances from `Gone with the Wind.’ Armstrong keeps us turning the pages and may well introduce a new readership to a story that must keep on being told.

The Age

I found myself replaying the scenes in the book like a film reel in my mind… Nocturne is one of those novels that will leave you reading into the night and will stay with you, like the notes of an unforgettable melody, long after you’ve read the last line.

Australian Jewish News

A gallant and gut-wrenching story. The accounts of the two uprisings…are dramatic and heart-breaking …superb reading.

Australian Book Review

Nocturne had me captured from its opening chapters…it is an inspirational account of how ordinary people are forced to find strength and courage within themselves when the world around them falls apart.


If you’re looking for a book that really leaves you thinking about life and its transience, then Nocturne is a have-to read…I found this book very hard to put down… Although it is quite long, every word is worthwhile.

Meap Careers


Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780732284305