Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Julie's Review: Skeletons At the Feast

Summary: A masterful love story set against a backdrop of epic history and unforgettable courage. In the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives. At the center is eighteen-year-old Anna, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats, and her first love, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war named Callum. With his boyish good looks and his dedication to her family, he has captured Anna’s heart. But he is the enemy, and their love must remain a closely guarded secret. Only Manfred, a twenty-six-year-old Wehrmacht corporal, knows the truth. And Manfred, who is not what he seems to be, is reluctantly taken with Anna, just as she finds herself drawn uncomfortably to him. As these unlikely allies work their way west, their flight will test both Anna’s and Callum’s love, as well as their friendship with Manfred–and will forever bind the young trio together. ~amazon.com

Review: Other than the memoir All But My Life: A Memoir by Gerda Weissman Klein, Skeletons at the Feast has to be the most intense WWII depiction I've read in a long time. By intense I mean brutal, honest and at times grotesque. I'm not surprised because we've all heard and read the accounts coming out of World War II, but sometimes it hits you over the head like a hammer.

Mr. Bohjalian never ceases to amaze me with the life that he breathes into his characters. Skeletons at the Feast is a testament to the people that survived the Holocaust and also the harsh reality that some people truly did bury their heads when it came to the treatment and killing of the Jews. Perhaps for the Emmerich's it was because they were in a rural area of the country and it wasn't until they had to flee that the harsh realities of this war became evident to them.

We are taken on this journey through Anna, Mutti, Theo, Callum and Uri. They are a make shift group that in the end becomes a family. They've been through some of the worst events in their lives and have made it through together. Anna is 18 and a bit naive but for me I expected that given her circumstances and the geography of where she lived. Callum is their Scottish POW who not only becomes Anna's lover but also a god send to the family when their patriarch and brother need to leave to help fight in the German Army.

For me the most fascinating character was Uri. A Jewish man who becomes a chameleon to survive the war and to perhaps find his way back to his family. He finds himself at first with the Emmerich's because he believes that Callum will be his ticket to freedom once they reach the Allied troops. Uri did what he had to for survival.

I am only sorry that this book sat on my TBR shelf for so long. I have no reason behind it other than "too many books, too little time."  My favorite book is still The Double Bind by Mr. Bohjalian but this is definitely a very, very close second.

I can't not encourage you more to read this book if you have any interest in World War II.

Final Take: 5/5


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