Chris Bohjalian has written a very diverse collection of interesting books touching on foster children, midwives, mental illness, homelessness, and others. I recently finished listening to Skeletons at the Feast from the Overdrive collection of audio books and cannot quit thinking of it’s bittersweet, heart wrenching story.
This time Bohjalian takes us on a historical ride to 1945 Nazi Germany where we encounter the horrors of war, but also the beauty of simple acts of kindness and civility. Inspired by a real diary, the characters include a wealthy farm family whose men are drafted to fight the approaching Russians while the mother, young son and teenage daughter flee with a Scottish POW. Additionally a Jewish man, Uri, has escaped from a train headed to Auschwitz, and becomes their protector as he disguises himself as a Nazi. We also follow a group of Jewish women prisoners as they are marched from one camp to another in the most brutal of circumstances. The story is powerful. It is difficult to listen to and comprehend the horrors perpetrated on innocent people. We are caught up in the relationships that develop as these people cling to the tiniest glimmer of hope. We watch a secret love develop between Callum, the POW, and Anna, the beautiful Prussian girl. We contemplate the thoughts of Muti, an aristocrat who wonders what her people must have done to feel the horrific retaliation.
This is a deeply moving, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching masterpiece made more vivid by listening to Mark Bramhall’s wonderful portrayal. Don’t miss Callum’s Scottish brogue.