"22 Britannia Road" by Amanda Hodgkinson is a heartbreaking and powerful novel about wartime secrets and the difficulties of adjusting to postwar life.
It is 1946 and Silvana and eight-year-old Aurek board a ship that will take them from Poland to England.
Silvana has not seen her husband Janusz in six years, but, they are assured, he has made them a home in Ipswich.
However, after living wild in the forests for years, carrying a terrible secret, all Silvana knows is that she and Aurek are survivors.
Everything else is lost. While Janusz, a Polish soldier who has criss-crossed Europe during the war, hopes his family will help put his own dark past behind him.
But the war and the years apart will always haunt each of them unless they together confront what they were compelled to do to survive. "The characters are so convincing and the writing's so unshowily accomplished that it soon becomes something gripping.
An admirable debut". ("Daily Mail"). "A most accomplished first novel. Powerful story-telling and entirely convincing in its evocation of post-war England.
Very good". ("Penelope Lively"). "Keep your Kleenex handy reading 22 Britannia Road". ("Grazia"). "An affecting story, extremely well told". ("The Times"). Amanda Hodgkinson was born in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset and grew up in Essex and Suffolk.
She currently lives in south-west France with her husband and two daughters. "22 Britannia Road" is her first novel.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 02/02/2012
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780141399676
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Review by VivienneR
I have a lot of sympathy and sorrow about what Europeans suffered during and after WWII, especially those families who were separated and displaced. Hodgkinson's story is a reminder that what is broken is difficult to put back together. I liked the format that intersperses the stories of Silvana, Janusz, and the their difficult reunion in England after the war. But there was something lacking in this debut novel and I find it hard to identify just what it was. Good, but not great.