Saturday, 21 June 2008

World War II Novel

Finished June 21
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
This story begins in Poland at the estate Kaminheim, owned by the Emmerich family. The Russians are advancing and due to the stories being told of their brutality against civilians, most people are fleeing in advance of them. The Emmerichs, consisting of Irmgard and Rolf and three of their children, Anna, Helmut and Theo. They also have with them Callum, a POW from Scotland who was working on their farm and whom Anna is having a secret relationship with. They must cross the frozen Vistula river and keep moving west from there. Part of the reason they are travelling with Callum is that they hope the might meet up with British forces eventually and that he will vouch for them.
We also follow Uri, a German Jew who escaped from a train travelling to the camps and has since been taking on various identities, often of German soldiers, to survive. He is looking for his sister Rebekah who was also taken to the camp and whom he is not sure still lives.
The third story is that of Cecile, a French Jew who had been working in a factory attached to a camp and is now being moved west with the rest of her camp to an uncertain destination. She feels close to Jeanne and tries to keep her motivated to live and hope for rescue from their situation.
As they all work their way west, they encounter each other and play roles that influence the direction of each others' lives.
This is a story of strong characters, particularly Anna and Uri, and the feelings that underlie their actions. The situation is constantly changing, but always somewhat desperate and none of them are really sure what they are ultimately hoping for.

1 comment:

  1. I am really looking forward to reading this one. It sounds good and I like the author's writing style.