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"Housekeeper or housewife?" the soldier asks Silvana as she and eight-year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England at the end of World War II. There her husband, Janusz, is already waiting for them at the little house at 22 Britannia Road. But the war has changed them all so utterly that they'll barely recognize one another when they are reunited. "Survivor," she answers.
Silvana and Aurek spent the war hiding in the forests of Poland. Wild, almost feral Aurek doesn't know how to tie his own shoes or sleep in a bed. Janusz is an Englishman now-determined to forget Poland, forget his own ghosts from the way, and begin a new life as a proper English family. But for Silvana, who cannot escape the painful memory of a shattering wartime act, forgetting is not a possibility.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ellen Rosewall on 06-08-11
This lovely book unfolds deliberately, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the characters of Janusz, Sylvana and Aureck. The book goes back and forth between the present day, as they are trying to get to know each other again after being separated during the war, and the past, as we gradually learn what they have faced. Janusz's desire to be a proper Englishman and have a perfect small town life seems impossible considering what they have faced and the secrets they keep from each other. But as we get to know them, they get to know each other, and the horrors of war become part of what they share instead of what divides them. The narrator of this book is excellent, easily able to switch between Polish, French, and British dialects. I especially appreciated that the stories of their separate lives during the war were presented honestly but not dramatized or over-emotionalized. Just like the present day, the past is what it is -- nothing more.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful