'This is the story of how I became a man ...' In May 1939, the SS St.
Louis left Hamburg for Havana, carrying almost a thousand refugees from Hitler's Germany.
Over the following weeks, the ship criss-crossed the ocean, buffeted alternately by hope and disappointment, as it sought asylum in a friendly port and war drew inexorably closer.
Based on actual events, Michael Arditti's enthralling new novel is the memoir of one of the passengers, fifteen-year-old Karl, heir to a department store fortune.
He recounts both the horror and excitement of the trip, along with his personal voyage of discovery, as he learns the truth about his family, battles Nazi crew members and plans mutiny.
Most momentously, he describes his first, passionate love affair with the beautiful young Johanna. "A Sea Change" is a mesmerising journey through history.
A tale of dreams and betrayal, of courage and resilience, of romance and reconciliation, it unforgettably evokes an extraordinary summer in which a boy crosses the threshold from youth to maturity.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 304 pages
- Publisher: Arcadia Books
- Publication Date: 01/09/2006
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781904559214
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Review by presto
Based on an actual event, the sailing of the SS St Louis from Hamburg in 1939 with nearly a thousand Jewish refuges escaping Hitler's Germany, A Sea Change follows one families plight as told by fifteen year old Karl. Karl is the grandson and heir of a very wealthy prestigious Berlin department store owner. Along with his grandfather Karl sails with his mother (his father has been absent for eight years), his younger sister and an 'adopted' aunt as well as an 'adopted' older sister.Karl, now in his seventies, recalls the events of the voyage as he records if for the benefit of his own grandchildren. He describes the situation in Germany before their escape and then details the various happenings as they cross the Atlantic to Havana, the difficulties they encounter on arrival and the subsequent events. Along the way Karl learns much about his own family, has one or two run-ins with the few Nazis assigned to the crew, befriends the sympathetic ship's captain, and experiences his first real love in the form of the beautiful young Johanna.A sea change is a most engaging account at times moving and tragic, and with plenty of drama. Karl is a likeable boy verging on young manhood, prone to the errors of impetuous youth, he learns quickly and proves himself worthy. The writing is impeccable, the prose flows with such beauty and ease that it is a joy to read.