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January 31, 2023

The Snow Hare by Paula Lichtarowicz ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber

Lena lies on her deathbed and as she slips in and out of consciousness memories resurface. Memories of her childhood in Poland, memories of the early days of her marriage, memories of the day that changed the course of her life, and memories of a love found in the snowy tundra of Siberia.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

audio book cover of historical fiction novel The Snow Hare by Paula Lichtarowicz
January 2023; Hachette Audio; 9781668617250
audio (13h 33m), ebook, print; historical fiction

I have always been fascinated with Eastern Europe during the Cold War. I can remember the Berlin Wall coming down and there was little in the way of information about what had been going on in those countries behind the Iron Curtain. So I was interested in Snow Hare as it was set in Poland during the Soviet occupation. When I started the novel I thought it was at the end of WWII as I didn't realize that the Soviets had invaded Poland in 1939. All the history I knew of the 1939 invasion of Poland was done by Germany.

The story is told in flashbacks and, as I was listening to the audiobook, I would have liked some indication that we had shifted to the past or the present. I was often momentarily confused. Lena is on her deathbed and is confused too as she slips into the past or awakes from these dreams in the present. Perhaps in the print edition, these shifts are delineated by chapters (chapters are never mentioned in the audiobook) or some kind of visual section break. As it also as took me quite some time to realize that the past was before the war and not after the war, I wish there had been mention of years. 

(For those who like me didn't know about this piece of history, the Soviet Union occupied Poland from 1939 to 1941 which is when the Soviet Union joined the Allied Forces as Germany had ended its nonaggression pact with them).

Learning about this period of time has filled in other blanks in my history knowledge. I knew that at the end of WWII that refugees were fleeing from the Soviets or hoping that the Americans or British made it to them first for they feared the brutality of the Russians. I always wondered if they knew about brutality from other refugees or if it was just spread as gossip of sorts. But now I realize, at least for the Poles, they already were aware of their brutality.

When the story stayed in the past, I really enjoyed it. The present was confusing as we only have Lena's point of view and she is in a medicine-induced haze. There are characters in the present that we don't know yet and it is very late in the novel that it is mentioned that at least some of them are grandchildren.

I'm always looking for WWII books that tell stories I haven't heard before and this is definitely one of them. It's interesting with endearing characters.

The narrator Rose Ackroyd does a really good job with the various character voices and it is a rather large cast of characters. Because of the shifting timeline, I do have a caution about listening to the audiobook. You will want to listen to it when you have few distractions. Luckily I listened to this on the weekend while moving mulch so I could focus closely on the story. 

Buy The Snow Hare at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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