22 Britannia Road: A Novel by Amanda Hodgkinson
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published April 2011 by Penguin Group
Read August 2011
I hate Doris!!
Okay, now that I got that out of my system I can start my review properly. As I said in my video, I discovered 22 Britannia Road after reading the review on Bonnie's blog Hands and Home. I started this blog with Skeletons at the Feast because I loved the book and wanted to tell more people about it. Before reading it though I had read The Zookeeper's Wife. Why am I giving you a run down of what I've read. Growing up, I read a lot of historical fiction. Mostly in the WWII era. However, they focused on soldiers or POWs. So when I returned to reading historical fiction, I was looking for something a bit different. These three books have something in common. They all deal more with the civilians, the families left behind.
As an American, I don't know what it is like to live through war that is happening in my backyard. And as frequent readers of my blog you know that I enjoy stories where the characters have to struggle but that human spirit persevere in overcoming the harshest of obstacles. One thing 22 Britannia Road did not have in common with The Zookeeper's Wife and Skeletons at the Feast is that it is purely fiction. The later works were what I call creative non-fiction. Actual documents and often personal journal entries of the main characters fueled the story and the authors just filled in the plot holes to weave a realistic story. While I fully enjoyed 22 Britannia Road, I did feel something was missing something. I think it was the touches of reality. Not that what Silvana and Janusz went through could not have been what other survivors experienced, but it felt more of a possibility and not a true how it was. Does that make sense?
The writing was superb. Amanda Hodgkinson did a wonderful job of connecting the reader with her characters. When Jan would write to his parents, I found myself wondering if he was ever able to reconnect to them and what may have happened to them. I kind of wish that we had a side story that gave us a glimpse. Even now, I still wonder about their story as if they were real people. I was afraid that I would become confused by the jumping back and forth between the past and present and characters, but each subplot was clearly defined making it easy for the reader to fall right into the story.
If you are looking for a historical fiction novel that tells a different story. A book with complicated characters trying to regain their life after living through hell. Characters who don't always make the right decision, yet you understand why the make those choices. Then please give 22 Britannia Road a chance.