22 Britannia Road Author:Amanda Hodgkinson A tour de force that echoes modern classics like Suite Francaise and The Postmistress. — "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 Britan... more »nia 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.
One of the most searing debuts to come along in years, 22 Britannia Road« less
Ive read a number of books set during the onset and duration of World War; many of them focus on The Holocaust or the United States involvement in the war. 22 Britannia Road takes a different approach in the story of Janusz, Silvana and their son Aurek.
The novel opens with the reunion of the little family six years after they were separated in 1940 when the Germans Army invaded their homeland of Poland. This reunion is not a joyous Hollywood style meeting. After so many years apart the two are virtual strangers and each of them keep secrets they are not ready to share. In alternating chapters we learn the husband and wifes very different war stories.
I loved this book. The story grabbed from the very start. I found the writing beautiful and the development of the story of two people who are desperate for a normal life again was nicely done. Complicating their struggles are the secrets they are keeping and their son Aureks difficulty in adapting to civilization after many years hiding with his mother in the forests of Poland. I liked the fact that these people were not perfect; they made choices both good and bad which seemed very realistic considering the horrific circumstances. When all is revealed it isnt a happily ever after moment, decisions have to be made about living in the past or trying to build a future either together or apart.
This is a debut novel from a very promising new talent and a definite Top Ten book for me this year. I am looking forward to Ms. Hodgkinsons future works. I recommend this book very highly.