This is an amazing book, both beautifully written and horribly uncomfortable. It roused all sorts of emotion in me: at the start of the book, I found I could muster little sympathy for any of the four main characters; they all came across as fairly unpleasant. But by the end of the book, my heart broke for all of them, even Bernhard (who I found hard to like at all, even given his difficult upbringing and wartime experiences). The way the book is written–from alternating points of view, and jumping around in place and time–allowed me to get to know and understand all the characters, their past, their present, their motivations. I was confronted with the sheer horror of war, and felt overwhelmingly grateful for the comfortable and safe lives that I and my family live. And perhaps the most difficult aspect of this book for me was the awful, awful racism that white, British people (and white American GIs) showed to the black immigrants and soldiers. It boggles my mind that people could be so cruel and unloving, especially when confronting a common enemy.
This is a superb book that will haunt me for a long time. I would love to read it again some day, and will certainly look out for more writing from Andrea Levy.
5/5 – It was amazing!
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