Full Circle by Vered Neta

Simply Marvellous

Full Circle by Vered Neta is a powerful historical dual timeline novel that totally consumed me.

The action alternates between 1989 America and Prague during the 1960’s. The two time periods are linked by a family as we witness strained mother-daughter relationships in both time periods. Daughters feel trapped and smothered by their mother’s love, believing their mothers are timid and fearful – nothing could be further from the truth! Both mothers are incredibly brave and resourceful. They both keep silent about their pasts and are therefore misunderstood by their daughters. The mother in the 1960’s is an Auschwitz survivor. “Her way of fighting the Nazis was making sure she would stay alive.” This shows real determination – and a lot of luck. Life was lived on a knife-edge all the time.

Life in Prague in the 1960’s was lived behind the Iron Curtain. The Soviets were in control. There were rules and regulations to be obeyed. “The Gulags are filled with the bodies of people who thought differently.” To be in opposition to Communism could spell a death sentence. People had to learn ways to be able to read banned books and to go against the state.

Religion was dead. Communism reigned. For a mother in the 1960’s “her God died in Auschwitz with the rest of her family.” This belief meant that a daughter’s Jewish heritage was not celebrated. She had to find out about her roots by being resourceful and seeking out a rabbi who would educate her. This contrasts sharply with America where people could worship and celebrate their Jewish heritage.

Behind the Iron Curtain trust was in short supply. “She knew now that eyes and ears were everywhere.” To make an enemy of the state would mean blacklisting for life – or worse.

The late 1960’s saw a student uprising in Prague. As a teen in the 1970’s I had seen footage of a student who set fire to themselves in Wenceslas Square – but to read about it within the book was still shocking. People died. The world looked on.

You never forget your first love – even if your first love was dangerous. A character feels guilt for being unable to prevent the one she loves from destroying themselves but she is determined not to sit back and watch others have the same fate.

Our roots and heritage are important. Hitler tried to wipe out the Jewish people. Communism tried to deny religion but determined souls want to preserve the history, heritage and artefacts of the Jewish nation.

Vered Neta has created a marvellous set of very likable and realistic characters. Their personalities bounced off the pages and into my heart.

The landscape of the novel came alive under the author’s artistic pen. America with all its freedoms was in glorious technicolor. In contrast Prague of the 1960’s was in shades of grey as fear and suspicion lurked around every corner.

I thoroughly enjoyed Full Circle. It was a powerful read that also educated me. I felt like the characters were real people in real situations. We watched a movement go from light to dark and back to light again over the course of the book. Regimes come and go. Ideas come and go. But the heart and soul of the people remain.

I received a free copy from the author. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.


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