My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor is a comprehensive historical novel that will educate you as you read.
The novel is set in occupied Rome in 1943. It has its’ roots in fact but is a work of fiction set around real life personalities.
There are two alternating time periods – Rome 1943 leading up to Christmas Eve and 1963 with a series of interviews and musings from various characters. The tale has been well planned and executed.
There is a complex cast of characters from various countries who are working together to help the Jewish people escape from Rome. We hear of the Nazi leader of occupied Rome who rules with a reign of terror. In contrast, he is also a family man. It is very strange to witness these distinct personalities existing in one man. The family man does not sit easy, in my mind, with the brutal sadistic personality.
The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko is a fascinating historical novel and part of the Hong Kong Collection.
The story is fictional but has its roots in fact. It is set in 1939 and into the World War II years in Hong Kong. I was educated as I read about the brave people of Hong Kong during the war.
Ordinary men and women were flung into war after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941. As a British colony, the Hong Kong people fought against the Japanese.
Some young British men living in Hong Kong formed an elite group Z. They were fearless in their fight.
We see the difficulties facing a young British man and a Eurasian woman, the daughter of a prominent Hong Kong citizen. To be seen with the man would mean ruin for the young woman. Love must find a way.
Rising From The Ruins
The German Messenger by M J Hollows is a mesmerizing historical novel that gripped me from the start.
The story is set in Liverpool 1940-1941 at the height of the blitz. M J Hollows writes of the horrors facing the brave people of the city. As the city burns, we witness brave firefighters running towards the flames. Comprehensive descriptions bring the landscape to life as we see a landscape right out of Dante’s inferno.
Ordinary citizens with German roots were viewed with suspicion. Some were interred in camps. It is heartbreaking to see the elderly wrenched from their homes to spend their last days incarcerated simply because of their roots.
There is a question of trust. Some, surprisingly, placed their loyalty with Hitler. These evil characters would prey on the vulnerable, using leverage to get classified information.
Friendship & Adventure
Where The River Takes Us by Lesley Parr is a very engaging children’s novel set in the Welsh valleys in 1974.
1974 was a time of unrest in Britain with three day working weeks and regular power cuts. Times were hard for many but even harder for the leading character and his brother who had been orphaned after a car crash.
The story is told in the first person and we become intimately acquainted with the young boy. He is kind and caring, wise beyond his years. We see the need for identity, to be seen as an individual and not just the village orphan. Labels are constrictive, not giving the full picture.
There is a beautiful bond between the brothers. The older brother is trying to keep the pair of them together. At nineteen, he was forced to grow up quickly, resulting in abandonment by his mates. In order to survive, he has made some bad choices. In contrast, the lead character’s friends have drawn closer to him and are very protective.