I have enjoyed previous novels by Kate and this one did not disappoint. Set around the Malay invasion by the Japanese in World War II the story focuses on the wife of a rubber plantation owner. With its descriptive writing and mixed cast of characters, it was a story that drew me in and kept me interested.
I do love novels set during WWII, and this may be my first young adult WWII story. It begins as a written confession from Queenie, who has been captured in France, and she tells the story of how she and her best friend Maddie, a pilot, ended up there. There’s a lot about being a pilot, some of what it was to be a woman in the air force, and about the French resistance. Though torture is involved, there is little gory detail, and the book is gently amusing at times, and is a great story of friendship and loyalty.
Though only two parts of the suite were finished before the author was taken from her family and killed in a concentration camp in 1942, the scale of this novel is still so grand. In the first part, people flee Paris as the Germans approach, and in the second, a country village is occupied. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the different reactions to the situation are raw, shocking, tender, brutal and very real. It’s hard to separate the book from the author’s real life tragedy, and why should we? The film focuses on just one part of the book, where it is set in the country village. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas ( American, Belgian and English) do a great job playing the French and German characters and it is a moving film.
I really like the idea behind the book – a French architect, during WWII, designs hiding places for Jewish people. The plot is fast paced and the resolution satisfying, but for me, the characters were stereotypical and the character development was off. The dialogue was anachronistic and I had a sense of the author being American. I can see why a lot of people would love this book, but the language and characters were not quite what I look for.
The Butterfly and the Violin is a sad and gentle tale of two young lovers who were sent to the Nazi concentration camps, how they survived by a small thread of hope, how they were separated and found again, and how poignant and fragile the gift of life is. I was so deeply moved by this story that I purchased my own copy. If you wish for a book that will speak deeply to your heart, this I recommend!
Nevil Shute is a brilliant storyteller, and this is another great WWII story. Alan Duncan finally comes home to his family farm in Australia, quite a few years after the war, damaged physically and emotionally, and finds a new tragedy in his house. A maid committed suicide the night before he arrived, and he sets out to discover her story. This is less technical, more character driven than some of his books, so more to my taste, and a moving look at the impact the war had on people, during and afterwards.
I love how fiction make something that is just vague memories of the news, real and somehow urgent though it is the past. Girl at War is the story of a Croatian girl, Ana, just ten at the beginning of the Civil war in Yugoslavia. From her childhood in Zagreb to her student days in New York, we experience the horrors of the war, and how she faces her personal history and that of her country. I knew so little of this war and found this story about the history, its continued impact and people’s resilience compelling and darkly beautiful.
Gustav is a young boy, growing up in Switzerland after WWII, his father having died, his mother cold towards him. A Jewish boys starts at Gustav’s kindergarten, and they become close friends. The book is beautifully written; quiet and pensive. It’s about the impact of the war on Switzerland as a neutral country, and about the nature of friendship and love.
War is not pretty and this novel embodies this concept. The story does not end on an uplifting note – it is quite bleak. The descriptions are sparse and the conversations match, creating a somber mood. The story is from a German viewpoint which gave me a different view of World War II. The change in feeling in people as the war ground on was interesting, but overall a very bleak story.
Prewar Germany is well described in this novel. It was interesting to read about the Nazi hierarchy and their attitudes to the German people as they build towards WWII. The detail is rich, you definitely feel like you are in Berlin, so much so that the actual story line was buried within the setting, making me not enjoy the story as I would of liked to.