Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: 22 Brittania Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
Hardcover, 336 pages
Penguin Group (USA), April 26, 2011                   

Personal Copy

Summary from Goodreads:
"Housekeeper or housewife?" the soldier asks Silvana as she and eight- year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England at the end of World War II. There her husband, Janusz, is already waiting for them at the little house at 22 Britannia Road. But the war has changed them all so utterly that they'll barely recognize one another when they are reunited. "Survivor," she answers.

Silvana and Aurek spent the war hiding in the forests of Poland. Wild, almost feral Aurek doesn't know how to tie his own shoes or sleep in a bed. Janusz is an Englishman now-determined to forget Poland, forget his own ghosts from the way, and begin a new life as a proper English family. But for Silvana, who cannot escape the painful memory of a shattering wartime act, forgetting is not a possibility.

My Thoughts:
22 Britannia Road was an accurate and intriguing work of historical fiction.  The novel alternated between sharing the story of reunited couple Silvana and Janusz, after the end of World War II and telling their separate experiences during the war.  Their stories during the war were extremely rough - they are situations that I cannot even imagine having to endure. 

The book itself fell a little flat for me.  The approach of switching between wartime and post-war narration was very distracting.  Even though I understood how this method allowed the stories and secrets to unfold, it did not flow as seamlessly as I would have liked.  The horrible experiences that Silvana and Janusz encountered were often extreme, yet I did not feel the emotional tugs of sympathy, outrage and horror that would be appropriate.

I appreciate the story that was told and I think that the author's research into the time period was extremely good.  Personally, I think that it was an amazing idea for a story.  Unfortunately, I just wasn't as invested in the characters as I would have liked to have been.

Have you read 22 Brittania Road?  Is there something that I missed that I should reconsider?

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