As a little girl growing up in Czechoslovakia, Petra Nemcova longed to see the world. However, she conquered the world, and Simon - her heart. While on a modeling assignment, she met Simon Atlee,
the photographer who was to work with her that day. They were together and in
love for 18 months. That is when the tsunami hit Thailand and the beach where
they were staying on Dec. 26, 2004.
Petra recounts the last moments in the bungalow. They were packing up to leave. Screaming, people running, and buildings falling were all she could see or hear. Then, without even time to say good-bye, Simon was carried away by the water. Petra describes being swept away herself and how she managed to survive. She gives details of her rescue and her rehabilitation. Both involved a lot of pain
- pain because her pelvis was fractured, and pain because of losing Simon.
Petra’s story is a love story. From their first meeting and subsequent dates to their first trip and first family visit, Petra shares her memories. She remembers the ups and the downs, too. She’s very proud of the calendar they made: Petra and Simon decided to work together to raise money for
the amFAR charity. She also talks about how they helped each other during the bad times. Simon got Petra off laxatives, and she was the reason he quit smoking.
Petra shows both sides of the modeling world as well, including some modeling secrets
(one involves chicken breasts and bathing suits). She had her fun times: she was a judge in the Miss Universe Pageant,
and she was invited to be on the Jay Leno and the Craig Kilborn shows. She had the chance to model for top designers, and she appeared in Fashion Week. But she
is also honest about the hard times. She found it difficult to eat very little. She
is very open about the diets she was on, how she exercised in her hotel room, and about the laxative abuse she eventually gave up. She talks about feeling lonely, too. But she does give advice to new models. She reminds models that no matter how thin and beautiful you are, the designer may still reject you because you don’t have the look they are after right now.
There are 16 pages of color photographs in the middle of the book. They are beautiful, and they show how happy Petra is with her family, her friends, and with Simon. Even the rescue and rehabilitation pictures show her positive attitude. She radiates.
The book ends on an uplifting note. Petra visits Thailand five months after the tsunami hit. She
has made peace with the past and hopes to make a difference in the future- with Simon’s memory as inspiration. Just as Simon and Petra worked together to raise funds for amFAR, their love will help others again:
all the proceeds of this book go to a tsunami relief fund.