Sunday, October 9, 2011

War Story

Amanda Hodgkinson's "22 Britannia Road" is a compelling post war story.  Silvana and Janusz are reuniting in England in 1946 after having been separated for 6 long years by the war.

They were living in Warsaw with their son, Aurek, when the invasion began.  Janusz left them to join up with Polish and Russian forces to fight the Germans.  As a result of a bombing raid he doesn't make it to the army post and decides to abandon the army. This begins his journey towards France.  Eventually he does join the British army and settles in a small English village after the war.  At that point he sends for his wife and child.

Meanwhile, Silvana and Aurek fled Warsaw ahead of the Germans.  They wandered the countryside looking for somewhere safe to wait out the war.  They ended up living with a band of fellow refugees in the forest that were hiding from the soldiers.  Eventually they were left, just the two of them, to live off what the forest provided.

As they come together post-war they must try and mesh their lives together.  Each harbors secrets of what happened to them during the war.  They both struggle with the urge to tell and the urge to keep silent.

The story switches between the present (1946) time at 22 Britannia Road and their separate wartime experiences.  Will they be able to put aside the past and forge a new life together?  The novel is rather haunting in it's descriptions of that war torn era.  The mixing of the past and present builds the momentum that keeps the pages turning in a need to discover the truth.

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