From Merrimon Book Reviews
22 Britannia Road
World War II shatters the lives of
Janusz and Silvana. Janusz goes off to war to protect Poland but
soon gets separated from his regiment. He flees to France.
Silvana flee into the forests of Eastern Europe with her son Aurek
where they witness the brutality of the Germans. After the war,
Janusz learns of her status in a refugee camp. In 1946, the
story's opening, Silvana travels to England to reunite with her
husband. Together they try to reestablish their marriage and lead
a proper British life. Will this family, now reunited, be able to
put the war behind them? Secrets have a way of returning.
Will they be
able to cling to each other instead of the past?
In her debut novel, Amanda Hodgkinson writes a moving tale of a Polish
family's attempt to put the pieces of their lives together in the
aftermath of war. The narrative alternates between past and
present (the present day being post-WWII) as well as between Janusz and
Silvana, giving the reader insight into both characters. Janusz
clings to an idea of living the perfect English life with a sense of
control over his surroundings. Now safe, the effects of war
linger on within Silvana. Often times, in contrast to her
husband, she seems a passive agent in the world around her. Aurek
shows the effects of war most dramatically in his difficulty in
relating to the people and world around him.
ROAD is a sad yet heart-warming account of one family's attempt to
reconstruct their lives in the aftermath of war and displacement from
their roots and family. 22 BRITANNIA ROAD focuses on the
familial relationship rather than historical details of the war.
The reader feels the war through its effects on the daily activities
and hearts of the individuals within the story. The melancholic
tone of the story resonates from a prose that is at times poetic in its
pace and imagery. Moments in the narrative are often simple yet
precise and all the more moving in the author's ability to focus on the
small moments in life that reveal so much. Amanda Hodgkinson does
not overwrite scenes. The emotional power of her narrative
emerges from the simple uncluttered writing style, a style that focuses
in on daily life. From these daily routines and the characters'
response to them, the sometimes slight incongruities evoke the depth of
the war's effects hidden within the heart. Several twists at the
end force the characters to make choices, choices that force them to
cling to life rather than the past.
Dorman Books (April 28, 2011)
Reviewed by Merrimon,
Merrimon Book Reviews