It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of.
Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents.
Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.
This book has several stories running together. There is that of Max, a prisoner of war in a the Siberian concentration camp of Gegesha, his experiences whilst there an also how he deals with being back home. Then there is the story of Netta and her childhood and also of Erika as she deals with the day-to-day living with a man who has been through an extreme and traumatic event. Then how these three very different people have to deal with change and how they have changed in themselves.
So Max is married to Erika, together they have daughter Netta. The story is told from perspectives of all, Max has returned home after 4 years in the camp, he has severe flashbacks during dreams as well as while awake. The relationship between himself and his wife and daughter is hard, and all have to adapt to the change in him. As well as this there has also been a murder, a woman known to the family and local people.
This is a time-slip story, and flits between Max and his memories in the camp, and also how life in Germany after the second world war has changed, food is scarce and money is tight. Max, Erika and Netta live in the attic of his parents house, even though both husband and wife are doctors they cannot afford their own house, money is spent on the clinic they run. The story as I have said is told from different perspectives, but is mainly focused on Netta, a time when children are seen and not heard, but children have a habit of hearing things they shouldn’t, this is very much the case for Net.
It took me a little while to get into this book, it took a few chapters before I understood the style and characters, but once I had got a feel for it I enjoyed it. The characters and plot I found to be well described, I thought the descriptions of Max and his treatment and experiences as a prisoner of war had been done well, not too overbearing or graphic, though still uncomfortable reading at times. It had a what you would expect and nothing that describes concentration camps should be easy reading, but it had been done sympathetically to the subject. Towards the end the various threads of the plot started to come together and as this happened this pacing definitely quickened.
This is a book that readers of historical fiction and mystery genres would read, I would recommend it. It is a very interesting look at life in Germany post war, as well as relationships within family and also socially.
- Paperback: 218 pages
- Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (10 Oct. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1912262029
- ISBN-13: 978-1912262021
About The Author:
Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. In 1966 she moved to the UK and, after a thirty-year career in education, delved into the therapeutic world where she has over twenty years experience as a counsellor and psychotherapist, gained with a wide variety of clients and presenting conditions.
By 1998, she and her partner Jeff established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy (APAC). This has grown to become the largest provider world-wide of post-graduate training for Play Therapists and Practitioners in Therapeutic Play Skills, in partnership with several universities and colleges.
Monika and Jeff became founder members of Play Therapy UK. Monika was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. Their work culminated in the official recognition of the play therapy profession in 2013, an endorsement of their devotion to help the twenty per cent of children in the world who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts.
Her professional background has given her insight into the effect of traumatic events not only on those directly experiencing them but also on their families and the generational impact.
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