Author: Amanda Hodgkinson, 2011
Genre: Period Fiction. WWII Europe.
Other Details: Hardback. Large Print Edition 535 pages.
At the end of the Second World War, Silvana and eight-year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England. After living wild in the forests for years, carrying a terrible secret, all Silvana knows is that she and Aurek are survivors. Everything else is lost. Waiting in Ipswich is Silvana’s husband Janusz, who has not seen his wife and son for six years. He has found his family a house and works hard planting a proper English garden to welcome them. But the six years apart have changed them all. To make a real home, Silvana and Janusz will have to come to terms with what happened during the war, accept that each is different and allow their beloved but wild son Aurek to be who he truly is. - synopsis from author's website.
The author tells the story of Janusz, Silvana and Aurek in England as they seek to reconnect and then moves back to before and during the war to give an account of their courtship and marriage as well as events that take place in the years they spend apart. These flashbacks are interspersed throughout until the past catches up with the opening of the novel.
I will admit that I wasn't all that keen when this was handed out at the library reading group as our February book as it is just not a time period or subject matter that I feel particularly drawn to. So usually when I do read books set during WWII they are ones chosen by one of my reading groups. However, once I began reading I found this quite an engaging novel that certainly held my interest.
It was a bitter-sweet tale strongly character driven that also vividly captured the hardships of the war on this Polish family and the post-war period in England. Certainly an accomplished début novel and one that I am glad I had the opportunity to read.