22 Britannia Road
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary (from Goodreads): In her powerful debut, Hodgkinson takes on the tale of a family desperately trying to put itself back together after WWII. Silvana and Janusz have only been married a few months when the war forces them apart. Silvana and their infant son, Aurek, leave Poland and disappear into the forests of Eastern Europe, where they bear witness to German atrocities. Meanwhile Janusz, the sole survivor of his slaughtered military unit, flees to France. There, he takes up with a local girl and, though he loves her, awaits the war's end so that he can go in search of his wife and son. He eventually finds them in a refugee camp and they travel to England together, where they attempt to put the past behind them. But the secrets they carry pull at the threads of their fragile peace. Hodgkinson alternates viewpoints to relay the story of three desperate characters, skillfully toggling between the war and its aftermath with wonderfully descriptive prose that pulls the reader into a sweeping tale of survival and redemption.
Review: A different type of World War II book, this novel dealt more with the aftermath of the war when a married couple is reunited after seven years of separation. Silvana is a Polish refugee who managed to survive the war with her young son by living in the forest. Janusz escaped Poland early on, fought for the Allies and established himself as a factory worker in a small English town. When Silvana and her son Aurek finally arrive in England, they not only experience a huge cultural adjustment, but they also have to learn to live with Janusz and the secrets he carries from the war.
The author beautifully captures the relationship between Silvana and her disturbed young son, and writes convincingly about the marital relationship and Silvana and Janusz are trying to establish after years of absence and tragedy. The flashbacks were gripping and disturbing, as one would expect from a World War II drama. I was engrossed in the story, but I did find it easy to guess the big secrets that each character was hiding.
Rating: 4 stars