I recently “checked out” Amanda Hodgkinson’s 22 Britannia Road by downloading it from the SLO county library website right onto my iPad. I felt like I was in some freaky sci-fi movie with futuristic technology, but nope, guess that’s just life now! Of course, the selection of books to choose from is pretty limited compared to your standard library and about 75% of the books are checked out and have multiple holds on them…but I’m hoping those problems will be fixed before too long.
I’d been hearing about this book for awhile, but it was never really on my immediate radar until I came across it on the library’s website. Overall, at 336 pages, it was a good but somewhat limited short read (although Jeff always accuses me of calling any book under 500 pages undeveloped!).
Set in WWII Poland and post WWII England, Hodgkinson tells the story of a young married Polish couple separated by the demands and horrors of war. The story begins in the “present,” with Janusz, the husband living in England and waiting to be reunited with his wife, Silvana, and son, Aurek. The young family has spent the war apart, each facing their own hardships, pain, and infidelity, but must now find a way to reconnect and become the family they should have been if not for the war. Janusz struggles to connect to his son, Aurek, in particular, as the boy was practically raised in the woods as Silvana and he attempted to hid from the Germans. His only desire is for this family to behave like a “typical” English family, something that’s difficult for his Polish wife to accept. Just as the family begins to be patched back together, infidelity and distrust strike the trio once again, coupled with a secret Silvana reveals that threatens to tear away the entire foundations of the family forever.
While well written, there was just so much more I wanted to learn about the characters and their past. The ending really did take my by surprise, but again, the end just seemed like the beginning of a new chapter–one in which I would have liked to have read more about!