The author’s new novel is based on the diary of a friend’s German grandmother, kept from 1920 through 1945. It can be assumed that the author used material pertaining to the final years of World War II and the Holocaust.
The plot is expertly constructed and the characters diverse but carefully intertwined. We meet a loyal German family who, at first, do not see that what the Hitler régime is doing is wrong. They are assigned a Scotch P.O.W. to work for them. We meet a Jew, who escapes a transport train, and poses as a German soldier. Other characters are created to round out the cast. The Germans fear the Russians the most, with good reason.
As fiction there are many coincidences in the interrelationships among the diverse characters with very different backgrounds. There is tragedy, romance, friendship, violence, many, many deaths until the end, when few characters are left to enjoy the historical peace.
It should be read strictly as a well constructed novel, not necessarily connected to historical fact, even though it is based on a diary.
Twitter Book Club
Read a transcript from the February 25, 2010 Twitter Book Club with Chris Bohjalian.