Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
This is a World War II novel without the use of a camp or a ghetto, even though two of the characters are trying to escape because they are Jewish or part Jewish.
And it isn’t about trying to escape the Nazis, but the communists (Soviet puppets really) that took power in Czechoslovakia following the Second World War. It isn’t simply Felix’s attempted assassination of a Nazi official. Afterwards, it is a struggle to reunite families and friends, something that is usually only seen via the escape over the Berlin Wall.
And this book takes place largely in Prague, an area that under Soviet control gets little attention in American fiction.
I have to honestly that when I first started reading this book, I found it slightly confusing. I actually stopped at one point and started over, and I am glad that I did.
While the story of Felix and Magdalena is part cliché in terms of the relationship, there is something compelling about the story.
But there is compelling feel to this novel and even an earnest. It isn’t so much the lovebirds that ignite the story but the supporting characters that have such life and humor. A character that only appears briefly comes to life even for the brief time he crosses the stage of the novel. This isn’t quite true of Magdalena comes across as the sainted woman, whose goodness and light shine out. Everyone loves her; you know that type of a heroine.
So even it is hard to hate her.
Felix is the more interesting character, a hockey star, who struggles to come to terms with what has happened and what is happening. His strength isn’t so much in his physical ability but his determination and dedicated – nice attributes for a sports player.
The love between the two is believable and almost physically available to the reader. Combined with the action, this makes the book waiting to be made into a movie.
I know I am not doing a good job of selling people on this book, or perhaps more exactly, a better review of the novel, but I am finding it difficult. This is one of those that stick with you. You think you have moved on from it, but your mind drifts back to the characters and the plot. Perhaps it has to do with longing of togetherness, or the knowledge that everyone wants answers even if they are impossible to find.