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.
I don’t know what it says about me, but WWII is a favourite setting. I have read many novels set during this time, but there was so much more to experience in Everyone Brave is Forgiven. Set in London and Malta it is a story of a well to do young woman and her war work as a teacher and ambulance driver, and a young man stationed in Malta. It is about strength, weakness, resilience, prejudice, terrible loss and a fragile hope. In no way sentimental or trite, I found this book deeply moving and enjoyable.
The Things They Carried isn’t how I thought it would be. I liked it; it wasn’t trite or sentimental it also wasn’t linear or solid, and while it may not all be exactly true, there does seem to be much truth in it. It is a man’s stories of his time in Vietnam, what it meant to him then and the ongoing impact through his life. It isn’t something that ever really makes sense, but stories help.
Set in America during World War II I found this to be an interesting setting. Charlotte is suffering the departure of her son to war, which has completely changed her and her relationships. Charlotte’s loss is the driving force of her decisions, trying to keep the orchard thriving, making her actions for her interest only – this makes her a character to difficult to like. But within the context of the story you do undestand these actions even if you do not like the character. Charlotte decides to bring in German POWs to help with the cherry orchard. This has repercussions for all the family and the community.
I read the first two books in this trilogy quite some time ago, and while it certainly was good knowing the past of the characters, I don’t think it is necessary to enjoy the book. For me, Pat Barker really brings alive the times and places she writes about and this time it is London, during the Blitz in WWII. Harsh, bleak and violent circumstances bring about changes in relationships for these characters who also lived through WWI. It is an engrossing story, not lovely, but powerful.