We Own The Sky by Luke Allnutt

  • 51wkuW8YgVLHardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Trapeze (8 Feb. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409172260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409172260
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.1 x 24.1 cm

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

A story about love, loss and finding hope-against all odds.

Rob Coates can’t believe his luck. There is Anna, his incredible wife, and most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. Rob feels like he’s won the lottery of life. Or rather-he did. Until the day it all changes when Anna becomes convinced there is something wrong with Jack.

Now Rob sleepwalks through his days, unable to bridge the gulf that separates him from his wife, his son and the business of living. But he’s determined to come to terms with what’s happened-and find a way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky will resonate with anyone who has ever suffered loss or experienced great love. Luke Allnutt shows that the journey from hope to despair and back is never as simple as we think, and that even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

 

Review

We Own The Sky  author Luke Allnutt opens the book with a preface explaining that he wrote the book whilst in hospital facing the reality that he may not live long enough to see his own son grow up.  I feel this is an important piece of information as it gives the author’s state of mind when writing this book and adds to the emotional aspect of the book.  Whilst the book is not about a father being unwell, but rather the young son, many of the feelings, and ways of dealing with such a heartbreaking and life changing situation are the same.

The book centres around Anna, Rob and their son Jack and the blow they are dealt when Jack becomes seriously ill.  Mainly told from Rob’s perspective, the focus is on the relationship of the father and son and to what lengths you will go to when you find yourself in their position.  The plot looks back at their journey and has intermissions of special memories that Rob was able to make with Jack.  I don’t want to give too much away in my review, but this book should be sold with a free box of tissues.  The characters of Anna and Rob met at University, brought together by the fact that they both from less privileged backgrounds and having a friend in common. They are very different personalities, Anna is very methodical, controlling stemming from her childhood as the daughter of missionaries.  Rob is a lot more laid back, has no sense of urgency  and doesn’t plan for the future.  We are almost voyeurs to their different ways of dealing with their son’s diagnosis, and how that effects them individually and as a couple.

For all the above, this is not a depressing read, I found it rather life affirming by the end, a sense of hope in their story, that life can go on after personal tragedy.  The difficult issues raised in We Own The Sky are handled with great care and empathy; Luke Allnutt writes with skill, understanding and a comprehension of character.  This is a beautiful and poignant read, that you will take to heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam

 

  • 51vvmJJbHZLPaperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (1 Feb. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250121884
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250121882
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.4 x 21 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

At the beguiling age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. At her first public ball during the Christmas of 1828, she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya is swept up in a courtship and then a marriage full of passion but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads Alexander to defend his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, he tragically succumbs to his injuries. Natalya finds herself reviled for her perceived role in his death. In her striking new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, Jennifer Laam helps bring Natalya’s side of the story to life with vivid imagination–the compelling tale of her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court and that of her greatest love.

Review

Historical fiction is still my favourite genre, especially when it is takes a different look at real historical figures and their lives.  I know a bit about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, and have studied some of his poetry as part of my degree course.  Apart from his poetry what people remember is his marriage to one of Moscow’s most beautiful women, Natalya Pushkina, née Goncharova, who was blamed for his death after a flirtation led to a duel in which Pushkin was mortally wounded.  In The Lost Season of Love and Snow Jennifer Laam tells the story from Natalya’s point of view, and portrays her not as a femme fatale, and villain but instead as a victim of society.

Jennifer Laam is a skilful writer and was able to bring to life early nineteenth century Russia to life, and had obviously done a lot of research.  Her attention to detail, in both setting and characters, draw you in and paint wonderful pictures of the palaces, the costumes and the characters themselves.  Natalya was only sixteen when she met Pushkin, and he was thirty, but this was acceptable in nineteenth century Russia; women were married off young so they no longer had to be supported by their family.  Natalya was a figure I was really drawn to, I had empathy for the situation she found herself in; a beautiful woman in a society ruled by men.  No woman in the Russian court could turn away from the Tsar, although Natalya tried her best.  Bearing in mind what has happened in today’s society this is an interesting read of how a woman is viewed as a beautiful object, and not an actual person, her intelligence and feelings are not taken into account. Her husband is obviously doomed from the beginning, as a young man he had been told by a fortune teller that he would die at the hands of a tall, fair haired man. Pushkin is the tortured genius we expect a poet to be, he doesn’t have much money and is at the whim of his imagination, and of the Tsar who censors his work.

The Lost Season of Love and Snow is an erudite and character driven novel.  Full of historical fact and captures the zeitgeist of the era; the position of women, the class system, censorship, politics and the role of literature.  I was captivated by this alternative  history of Natalya and he role in Pushkin’s life.  An evocative tale of love, jealousy, power and ultimately the death of a great poet; A brilliant piece of historical fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurant

  • IMG_1943Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprint edition (3 Nov. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1509836853
  • ISBN-13: 978-1509836857
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Guylain Vignobles travels on the 6.27 everyday to a job that he hates at a factory where old books are destroyed and pulped then recycled into paper for new books. What makes his journey different is that everyday on his way to works Guylain reads from pages that he has saved from the jaws of the pulling machine.

His audience, the passengers on the train, are captivated by the partial storied he reads, but it ins’ until he reads the diary of Julie, that he finds someone who understands his world; a place where he feels lost, alone and on the edge of existence.

 

Review

The Reader on the 6.27 is a wonderful and charming read that reaffirms the importance of books in people’s lives. The style of Didierlaurent’s writing reminded me of Antoine Laurent, whose books I love. I know some may say the essence of a novel can be lost in translation, but I love reading translated novels, they do seem to have that je ne sais pas, an air if something different that intrigues me.

There are a fairly small cast of characters in this book, but a just under three hundred pages it is a fairly short read. I have to say I don’t think I could do Guylain’s job of feeding redundant books into a machine to be pulped. He is a very solitary character with just his goldfish for company, and obviously has some form of OCD in his counting of lamp posts on his way to work. Guylain can’t bring himself to name the machine, its just the thing, as if giving it a name would be complicit in what it does. The pulping plant has its fair share of interesting characters; Yvon the security guard, who likes to recite from plays and speak in ‘Alexandrian Rhyme’ and Lucien who takes a almost a pleasure in destroying the books. The Delacôte sisters, two elderly ladies, only catch the train to hear Guylain read, again they seem a little eccentric in their manner, but I felt a warmth towards them in their wanting to hear the stories.

The Reader on the 6.27 is a beautifully written charming novel with a cast of interesting and slightly eccentric characters. It is an erudite and funny read that shows the importance of books in our lives, a book for the literature lover; a charming and quirky read.

The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye

 

  • TheSecondCup CoverPaperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (9 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 197803007X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1978030077
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm

 

 

 

Synopsis

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?

 

Review

The Second Cup is a book about the power of friendship and taking charge of your life, and taking the chance to be happy. The book is narrated by the four female characters. Faye, is an artist who hasn’t moved on from her first love from University, Jack. She is confident, and likes to be the centre of attention in the group friends. Olivia is the opposite to Faye, she is quiet , insecure and avoids any kind of confrontation, she finds it hard to trust and likes to stay in the background. Abbie is on her second marriage and has a good job, but she also has insecurities, mainly about her first marriage. Finally Beth, she is the glue that binds these friends together, the one that befriended each of them at difficult points in their life, when they were vulnerable, and brought them together. Beth hasn’t has an easy life, she felt she didn’t fit in with her family so her friends are her family, although they dont know about her dreams and mental health problems.

At the centre of this book is the death of Faye’s first love Jack. It is a catalyst in all their lives, a chance for them all to reconsider where they are and what really matters; a second chance and what the means to them. The reference in the title The Second Cup refers to drinking a from a pot of tea and savouring that second cup; throughout the book there are tea facts that are really interesting. In times of crisis the British always turn to a cup tea and Sarah Marie Graye uses that at times of reflection and change. The title could also refer to second chances; a chance for each of the characters to reassess their lives, and start over and take a second chance with their lives, have the courage to make the change and be happy.

I found all the characters interesting and realistic; we all now friends or acquaintances like them. The only time we see all four together is their regular Friday evening meet up at the pub, their natural interaction means you feel you know them, that they could be a group you would find in your local pub.

Sarah Marie Graye is a very descriptive writer in terms of feelings and characters, as well as place. I noted her like of insect metaphors and similes in the book; references to a tingling of the skin feeling like ants, a pier being like a centipede. The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the swap between the third person narrative and first person narrative in the chapters. I found this disjointed my reading experience as I had to check back to make sure I knew where I was with this. Some very difficult issues are raised in this book; suicide, bullying, miscarriage and divorce and dealt with in care and understanding, obviously well researched.

The Second Cup is an engaging novel, with characters you will recognise and care about. A wonderful heartwarming read, inspite of the difficult topics raised, a book that will say with you after you finish the last page.

 

The Second Cup Full Banner

The Woman in the Window by A J Finn

 

  • 51latWjOD0LHardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (25 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008234159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008234157
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.9 x 24 cm

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

Review

The Woman in the Window seems to be a very popular choice at the moment, if book clubs on Facebook are anything to go by, and after finishing this book late last night I can see why.  In the book industry it is being marketed as the next Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train; I don’t like these comparisons, it may be aimed encouraging readers, but it can also put people off and these books.  In this case I think the hype is around The Woman in the Window is well deserved, I thought it was brilliant, in plot, writing and characters.  It has an air of Hitchock about it, reminiscent of Rear Window; the same suspense throughout and has the flawed and troubled lead character; its no surprise that this has already been made into a film.

The plot centres around Dr Anna Fox, and agoraphobic, who medicates on pills and alcohol, and spends her time watching her neighbours through her camera.  When she is witness to a violent act her life becomes complicated as there is no proof that she did see anything.  Anna’s back story is drip fed through the book, and we are witness to her continued decline.  The tension in this book kept my heart in my mouth, the twists, turns,   kept coming, and this novel got darker as it went on.  The fairly short chapters add to this  gripping plot; I kept thinking one more chapter, one more chapter until the end.

Anna, as a character is obviously a damaged character, an addict to alcohol and her medication, and has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Her medication mixed with alcohol can cause hallucinations, and she finds it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is not.  However, throughout this, she runs a Facebook group for other agoraphobics and tries to help them even if she can’t help herself.  I found I did have a lot of sympathy for Anna and her situation, she is vulnerable, in pain and very lonely; a shadow of her form self when she was a Child Psychologist.

The Woman in the Window is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in years; much better than The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, both of which I enjoyed.  It is dark, compelling spine-tingler of a book that took my breath away in parts; a stunning debut from A J Finn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

  • IMG_1961Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition (9 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250167205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250167200
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.6 x 21 cm

 

 

 

Synopsis

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

Review

Just Between Us is an intelligent domestic thriller, that looks at how far you would go to protect a friend, and how that then ripples out to effect your daily life. The story is narrated mainly by three of the friends; Alison, Julie and Sarah, with the occasional chapter by Heather, the main protagonist. The three different observations and take on events adds layers and depth to the narrative, and give a more rounded version of events. I enjoyed Rebecca Drake’s writing style, her writing flowed seamlessly and she kept up the fast pace of the plot.

All four of her female protagonists were flawed in character and had troubled pasts that they hadn’t necessarily shared with each other, but do have an influence on events in the book. All four characters were very familiar, in that they could be someone you know from the school play ground; the tall blonde, the fun bubbly one, the quiet reader who stays in the background and the dark haired smart one. Their interaction and friendship is very natural as well and as in most groups of friends there are some closer than others, Sarah and Julie being friends the longest and Alison confiding some of her past in Heather. They reminded me in a way of the characters in Desperate Housewives. All are tied together in their decision to help Heather, and it is their slow unravelling, the paranoia, stress, turning to drink and their ultimate distrust of each other  that adds suspense and a sense of uncertainty to this fast paced thriller, just how well do any of us know our friends and what goes on behind closed doors.

Just Between Us is a compelling domestic thriller with lots of twists and turns along the way. It is a tale of friendships, obsession, lies, secrets and ultimately murder; an erudite and enthralling read.

 

 

 

Covent Garden in the Snow by Jules Wake

 

IMG_1946

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperImpulse (16 Nov. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008221979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008221973
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Tilly Hunter has her dream job at the London Metropolitan Opera Company, a kind and caring Fiance, so life is looking good. But when her lack of IT skills lands her in trouble at work, she has to work with the new IT Director Marcus Walker.

Where as Tilly is artisitc, full of life and fun, Marcus is sharp-suited, serious and determined to get Tilly computer savvy. But opposites do attract and the more time they spend together, sparks begin to fly and when Tilly’s fiance betrays her it is Marcus who is there for her. Could Marcus be the perfect Christmas present for Tilly.
After all, the best presents are those you dont know you need.

Review

Covent Garden in the Snow is marketed as a feel good Christmas novel, obviously hoping to do well in the Christmas market. However, I think this is misleading, Christmas only makes a small appearance, mainly towards the end of the book. Even the snow is a bit misleading, yes there is snow in Covent Garden but again its not integral to the plot. For me this books could be read at anytime of the year, as it has a much wider plot line. The narrative follows Tilly as she seems to fall from one problem into another, from computer viruses to problems with emotional opera stars and personal issues. All of this dealt with in a warm and witty prose that will engage the reader.

Tilly is a very endearing character, she is quirky, sassy, artistic, kind and has a love for life. I did resonate with her technology problems as I am a terrible technophobe and have to admit that I have once or maybe twice used the disc drive as a coffee holder. Marcus is her complete opposite but over time, in his relationship with Tilly, a different side to him comes out. He is not so straight laced and business like, and they share similar interests. Of course he is also tall dark and handsome, as you would expect from a romantic hero. I also found Tilly’s sister Christelle an interesting character. Like Marcus she comes across as the complete opposite to her sister; she is a lawyer, and to Tilly is someone a lot more serious than her and they have little in common. Over the course of the novel it is lovely to see the interactions of the sisters and their closeness as they realise that they really don’t know each other that well. Tilly is one of those people that like to bury their head in the sand rather than deal with problems head on which has damages her relationship with her family and with Felix, the fiance who lets her down in every way.

Covent Garden in the Snow is a wonderful, warm and witty novel that is not just for Christmas. It has memorable characters, and sizzles with sexual tension throughout; the perfect book to loose yourself in.

 

 

 

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

  • IMG_1951Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (4 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571313868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571313860
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

On Ruby’s thirteenth birthday she finds out that Barbara and Mick are not her real parents, she was adopted. Never fitting in, Ruby is happy at this news and sets out to find her real parents, who she believes will love and save her from the life of abuse and loneliness she has grown up with.

But Ruby is not totally alone, she has Shadow for company, she sees those that are dead. Shadow is her companion in her search for her parents, a search that takes over her life and she won’t be stopped by anyone.

 

Review

The Doll Funeral is a hard book to categorise in a specific genre. It is also hard to review, in that I don’t want to give any spoilers away. The narrative is split into two timelines; in 1983 Ruby narrates her story in the first person narrative. I found this gave the story a very personal touch, I felt I was there with Ruby on her journey. The second narrative is set in 1970, and follows Anna, Ruby’s mother through her pregnancy and after. Using the third person narrative marks the clear distinction between the two stories and marks it in the past; we are being told Anna’s story by a narrator.

I found Kate Hamer’s writing wonderfully descriptive. I understood Ruby, her childlike thinking, her feelings and made me want to protect her from the world around her. The Forest of Dean plays an integral part of this novel, not only is it where both Ruby and Anna are from, a place of safety for Ruby but also a metaphor for Ruby’s feelings and life. Ruby retreats to the woods at difficult times, she seeks protection and safety in the canopy of branches, the nurturing effect of the forest and she sees nature as magical, which she learnt from her Grandmother. Like the trees, she wants to put down and find her roots, who she really is. The forest offers Ruby everything that she doesn’t get at home. Her relationship with nature has a sense of otherworldliness about it, it is where she spends time with Shadow and sees other dead people, it is also a place that changes quickly adding to the ethereal quality of this book.

At thirteen, Ruby just entering adolescence which is a confusing time for many a young person, its that time where we question who we are, and start to push boundaries and rebel against the world. For Ruby this is a time of reawakening, and the theme of mothers and daughters and their relationships is very much a part of this story. As a character Ruby is very determined and I thought she had a strength way beyond her years. Her story is not an easy one to read at times, she is physically and mentally abused by Mick, her adoptive father, and finds herself in difficult circumstances. As well as the physical abuse there is also the subject of child neglect raised in this book. Set in the early 1980’s, when there was less legislation on child abuse, so children like Ruby were not reported to the authorities, the bruises were hidden and the subject kept with in the family.

The Doll Funeral is a beautifully written, powerful novel. It has a magical and atmospheric feel that weaves around Ruby’s and Anna’s stories, that will compel you to follow their stories; a captivating read.

The Chalk Man by C J Tudor

 

 

IMG_1947

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph (11 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718187431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718187439
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Looking back it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident; when twelve year old Eddie first met the Chalk Man.

It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea of the drawings: a way to leave secret messages between his group friends. It was fun to start with, until the figures led them to the body of a young girl.

That was thirty years ago, and Ed thought the past was behind him. Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and the drawing of a stick figure.

As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realised the game was never over…

Everyone has secrets; Everyone is guilty of something; And children are not always so innocent.

 

Review

The Chalk Man is the debut novel from C J Tudor, and is already being talked about as one of the best books that will be released in 2018. The plot has a dual timeline, switching seamlessly between 1986 and 2016. In 1986, Eddie and his friends, Metal Mickey, Fat Gav, Hoppo and Nicky, are twelve years old and spending the summer on their bikes as children did in the 1980’s (this brought back fond memories of my childhood). Events that summer will alter their friendships and lives forever, their innocence disappears in a a matter of months. In 2016, they are now in their forties, their relationships have changed but their past comes back to haunt them.

Ed/Eddie is the main narrator and it his through his thoughts and experiences that we learn the of the events. He may not be the most reliable narrator sometimes, he obviously doesn’t remember everything, but then again we all look back at our childhood with gaps in our memory and with rose-tinted glasses. He also drinks quite a lot and has nightmares that are very real and can cloud his memory, and cause confusion as it blurs the line between dreams and reality. The relationship between the gang of five was very natural in their use of nick-names, making fun of each other, and their interaction with each other and others around them. In the present it is obvious that none of them has really moved on from what happened that summer; they have got on with their lives but the events have left their footprint. Nicky was a character I had great empathy for, it was obvious her father physically abused her and it can’t have been easy growing up without her mother, especially at a time when single parents, especially single father’s were rare.  It has to be said that by the end of the book all none of the characters come out well, all have their secrets and all have told lies.

There are some difficult issues raised in this novel; rape, abortion, bullying and of course murder. C J Tudor deals with these with great empathy and in a way they would have been treated in the 1980’s, which is very different to now. There wasn’t so much awareness over sexual grooming, rape and bullying then, and this is reflected in the writing of the story.

From an attention grabbing prologue, The Chalk Man continues as a slow burner, simmering with tension and menace until the final thrilling conclusion.  With the 1980’s being in vogue in television and film this book fits right in today’s cultural zeitgeist, and I have no doubt that this book is going to fly off the shelves and straight to the top of the bestseller lists. A fantastic debut novel, with a sinister thread running through to keep you up late at night just to see what happens next.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

IMG_1924The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Published: January 11 2018

  • Publisher: Zaffre (11 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785763644
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785763649

Synopsis

1942, Lale Sokolov arrives in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Originally working as a manual labourer,  building more huts, he is given the job of tattooing the prisoners as they arrive at the camp.
One day, a young girl catches his eye, looking frightened and shaken he tries to calm her, and for Lale it is love at first sight. And so the story of Lale and Gita begins, Lale is determined to survive Auschwitz so he and Gita can have a life together after the war. His job as the tattooist has some privileges that he uses to help Gita and his friends, in the face of adversity Lale shows great humanity, and so begins the love story of Late and Gita.

Review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a book I have heard a lot about recently, even though it isn’t published until January 11. After reading it I understand why it is being so highly praised.

The story of Lale and Gita is all the more remarkable in that it is a true story. Author Heather Morris spent three years with Lale Solokov, listening and documenting his and Gita’s story. Originally, Heather wrote this as a screen play before deciding to turn it into her debut novel.

Today we are all aware of the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and reading about it from Lale’s perspective of being there really brings the reality and horrors of Auschwitz to life. Late is a very likeable character, and even in the harsh living conditions, with constant fear of death, his generosity and kindness to other prisoners really shines through. His position as a tattooist enables him to see and do things other prisoners can’t, and the horrors he sees are deplorable, he sees things no man should ever have to see. But through out all this he keeps his positivity and belief that he will survive this, and have a life with Gita after the war.

Gita is very young when she enters the camp, and her trust and belief in Lale is what I feel gets her though. Again, she has a kind and caring nature, a commamarederie with her fellow workers and girls who share her hut. Her bravery is also very apparent towards the end. I can’t even imagine what she went through, and I am glad that no one will ever have to face what she, Lale and others did at Auschwitz.

The only thing lacking for me in this book was some emotion and feeling in parts. As I mentioned it was originally written as a screen play rather than a novel and maybe that is why; actors on screen can convey their feelings and emotion.

At the end of the book, Heather Morris includes several photographs of Lale and Gita through the years. I found this very touching, and emotional, to see the people who went through this, it gives the story a more personal touch.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a remarkable, if at times disturbing read. It is a story of courage, bravery, horror, love, belief, death, survival but most of all hope and the affirmation the human character and the will to survive. I think that this will be one of the most talked about books of 2018, and for good reason. A slice of history that should never be forgotten and never repeated; a beautiful book of an awful experience.