Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Second Winter

Finished January 20
The Second Winter by Craig Larsen

This historic novel begins with a woman, Angela, in 1969 who has just visited East Berlin. She has visited an aunt she hasn't seen in years, since before the wall went up, and brought some things back with her. One of them is a picture, taken by her father who died in the war. The picture is of a young woman and a name on the back says Polina. In a later section we see how the separation came to be between Angela and her East German family members.
We see the young Polina in Poland, with her family and her good friend Julian, and we see the war begin for them, and the family get separated.
But the bulk of this story is told over the winter of 1941-42 in Denmark. The first section her follows Frederik, a farmhand in Jutland. We see how he lives under the occupation, and how he and his two young adult children must work very hard and long to survive. We see the risks they take, and we see the desperation in the actions Frederik takes. The next story during this time is that of Hermann, Angela's father, a wartime photographer for the Germans. And we see his connection to Polina and how he came to have the things that Angela has been given.
Other sections from this time cover the experiences of other characters, Frederik's daughter Amalia, his son Oskar, other members of the rural community they live in, and the family that Frederik is estranged from. We see how Polina is connected to Frederik.
This is a story of people connected through small accidents of fate that through them together, of what people will do to survive and keep their families alive during times of war.
A fascinating tale.

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