This is an excellent book, which throws one curve ball
after another; I had no idea that it was going to go in the direction it did,
and I defy you to predict it, too, even beyond halfway. If I have one gripe it is that perhaps the ending
is a little abrupt and something of shorn wick, but in other ways this perhaps
suits the story arc, which is actually a little unsatisfying, but in a good
way, because it is a true-to-life, realistic narrative.
Jan knows her subject matter very well, and truly grasps
and portrays the unimaginable horrors of the holocaust and ethnic cleansing in
Nazi-controlled Europe during World War Two, uncompromising in the despicable cruelty
of it; be warned, this book does not hold back, and the characters live through
the worst abuses among those recorded. I
read many books on the Holocaust, and this is as good as any out there; the author
is very knowledgeable. Furthermore, she
is very good indeed, presenting humanity and inhumanity, callousness and
humility with insight and objectivity; the characters – including the principal
– are multi-layered and ambiguous in their “goodness” or “badness”; good people
do questionable things, and supposedly “bad” people can be heroes. That character development is what makes War
Torn the quality book it is.
The story Jan has crafted takes us on almost an odyssey of
a journey with its main character, a renowned French concert violinist forced
to flee Nazi occupation with her Jewish husband, only to be picked up in the English
Channel by a German U-boat. It is
heartbreaking at times, but the emotional puzzle and subsequent self-analysis Frances
goes through is intriguing to witness. She
never acts incredibly, and we come to learn a good deal about her character,
both in terms of its strengths and flaws.
I suspect the author had a lot of fun crafting Frances, and you tend to
find that tenacious characters such as these are based heavily on influences in
the life of the author; it would be fascinating to know the real-life person on
whom Frances is based, if this is indeed the case.
I enjoyed this book very much. It told me a great deal about Jan Lloyd and
her talent. This book, clearly a labour
of love and importance to her, has done her justice – that she can be sure
of. I am in no doubt that whatever Jan
puts out next will be equally good, and hope to read it very soon.
In : Book Reviews