Your religion is wrong now; even though you do not practice you are guilty by some remote association. The only answer to this witch hunt is to change and then hope you are passed by. But for Pavel, Annelise Bauer and their son Pepik this is not possible.
It is 1939 and we are taken to Czechoslovakia where the Nazi threat is no longer becoming a threat it is becoming reality. The Bauers would be okay but they are Jews, non practising ones but still Jews. They have a lovely existence and nothing is a problem for them before the Nazi Threat, their son is looked after well by his governess/nanny, Marta who tells us the story of the Bauers and how they looked for ways of avoiding the inevitable. Now the Bauers are in danger, they try anything to stop the march to unknown. Changing religion and hoping that friends and family will be able to help them escape. As the story progress we see the lengths they go to and reach to be able to escape.
The final choice is for them to save their son, through the Kindertransport and send him to safety. What a choice for any parent to make, sending their child away to another unknown country and family knowing that they will ultimately face death.
This is a book of many emotions, and I admit to struggling with it. It was inevitable what was going to happen to the adults and I think this inevitably was also known to them as well and they slowly throughout the book resigned themselves to this fact. The emotion is raw when Pepik is sent away on the train with hundreds of other children. This emotion is jarred somewhat by another storyline throughout not narrated by Marta but from someone unknown, this really did not make sense until at least two thirds of the way through the book, who this narration was from and I am not sure if it had its purpose being in this book. I had worked out the relationship developing between some of the other characters and how this was going to come out but the additional narration somewhat spoilt that for me.
This is a fascinating novel and from a historical point of view introduced me to something I knew very little about but not necessarily had connected it with other events of World War Two. It has been researched thoroughly well and on many occasions I did wonder if I was reading something autobiographical not a fictionalised account at all as it was that strong in its storytelling. However I was not completely addicted to the book and I cannot begin to tell you why, I struggled but stuck with it and I know by doing that I have not missed out on something I think probably lots of people should read.
It was only whilst reading this book that I realised that it was long listed book for the Booker Prize 2011. Get me I thought but I also thought, I am really struggling with this and because it is long listed I should not give up! I did not give up but as I say in my review I did struggle and I do not know why. It was so emotional in parts but I think it was the structure of the story not the writing itself that I struggled with. I have provided some links to other bloggers thoughts about this book
Jackie at Farm Lane Books admits to skim reading after 70 pages.
Jane at Fleur Fisher was where I came across the book first off, and why I wanted to read it.
She Reads Novels (one of my favourite blogs to visit) also enjoyed it but found it a little confusing as well to start off with.
If you have not already give this book a go then do. If anything I am now interested in Kindertransport and the movement of 10,000 children who came to Britain alone.