Sunday, 8 May 2016


3 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team

This is the story of Eva, a Jew living in Berlin, and her family.  It starts in 1932/3, when Hitler first came to power, and moves on to the family's escape to Antwerp, then to Rio, and their next move to South Africa. 

It starts off well, describing teenage Eva's life before the Nazis, and her initial fear of anti-semitism.  However, it soon becomes more like a quite basic history book or newspaper article, told mostly from the point of view of a narrator, rather than the characters.  With four years of encroaching Nazi terrorism rushed through in a small percentage of the book, I didn't get a sense of the build up of fear.  We are told that Eva's brother Max is the most fearful of the Nazis, and her father, Oskar, holds the optimistic view that it will all blow over, but I felt that the family were used as occasional illustrations for what was happening, rather than them being the subject of the story.  I imagine most people who choose to read the book will already know what happened during the 1930s and 1940s in Europe, and are looking for characters to become involved with, atmosphere and emotion, rather than factual information.

There are some interesting sections in the novel, such as information about the diamond trade in Antwerp and Eva's friend Trudy's experience working on the side of the Nazis in Ravensbruck, but with the huge subjects of the persecution of the jews, daring escape in Nazi dominated Europe, and apartheid in South Africa, I felt it was far too short a novel; it's only 223 Kindle pages long and I read it in an afternoon. 

On the whole, the book was enjoyable enough to read (if 'enjoyable' is the right term, without trivialising the subject matter), but there was no time to become emotionally attached to the characters.  It's a terrific story, and I am aware that much of it is taken from real life; the author has all the material there, but just needs to work on the actual craft of storytelling.    

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