Wednesday, April 20, 2011

22 BRITANNIA ROAD by Amanda Hodgkinson

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a soft spot for certain types of books:  family dramas with a mystery or two, books filled with magical realism, and (lately) WWII dramas.  Perhaps this is because there have been quite a few excellent WWII-era novels in the past few years such as THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, THE POSTMISTRESS and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.  Amanda Hodgkinson offers us a new novel in this particular genre with 22 BRITANNIA ROAD and proves that there are many stories left to be told.

22 BRITANNIA ROAD focuses on how relationships can be damaged through war and enforced separation and how individuals struggle to find redemption after making desperate choices. The story opens with the arrival of Polish refugee Silvana and her 7-yr-old son Aurek in England. She is to be reunited with her husband Janusz after six years apart. The reunited family struggles to rebuild their lives together in their new home at 22 Britannia Road while wrestling with the secrets they carry from the war.  These secrets threaten to destroy any chance that Silvana and Janusz have of becoming a family once again.  I can't reveal much more without ruining the book and its ending.

I think one of the most compelling parts of the book is Silvana's story and her relationship with her son. Perhaps because I am the mother of a son as well, I couldn't help but think what I would do to care for and to protect my son in a similar wartime situation. The things that Silvana and Aurek went through seem impossible to survive.  The cognitive dissonance they must experience when trying to acclimate to their lives in Britian seems almost insurmountable.   Janusz's backstory is not as compelling but I loved his struggles to connect with his estranged wife and son. All of these individuals want desperately to put the past behind them but don't know how.

BOTTOM LINE:  Highly recommended. A beautiful story that will leave you questioning right and wrong and whether we can ever move forward from the past.


Cozy in Texas said...

I'm intrigued, can't wait for the review.

Carrie K. said...

Oh, I turned a review copy of this one down, trying to stick to my plan to be done with review copies (temporarily) for the summer. Bummer. Sounds really good!