Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Book Review: Restitution by Eliza Graham
An historical novel is not normally what I pick up in a bookstore but when Eliza Graham indicated she was looking for persons to review her book I could hardly object. She is a member of the same online writing group that I am and my goal is to read and review as many members’ books as I can. This may take a while as the group, Backspace, is growing by leaps and bounds.
The main thrust of the novel takes place in eastern Germany during the end of World War II. It takes a few chapters to get into the complex story as it weaves from 1920 to 2002 in a series of flashbacks to Alix’s parents’ childhood and courtship, Alix and Gregor’s pre-war years as childhood friends, the War itself in eastern Germany and London, 2002, where Alix lives as an elderly woman.
It is a love story about childhood friends who are separated by the war but are reunited briefly, at which point they realize their affection for each other is more than a childhood fantasy. Alix’s father, a Baron, is a German resistance fighter who Alix suspects has been arrested after participating in a plot to kill Hitler. In a blinding snowstorm she is fleeing her homeland during the Reds’ invasion when she happens upon her friend, Gregor, now a member of the Russian army. Their night together is their last but what came of it, a baby boy; and the welfare of the boy’s father, Gregor, haunts Alix the rest of her life. Though Gregor was a reluctant member of the dreaded Russian army he helps Alix escape capture the day after their tryst and does not learn they had a child together until sixty years later.
Alix had felt pressured by circumstance to give her baby up to the family that housed her during her pregnancy. It is not until sixty years later, the point where the novel begins, that Alix is oddly reunited with her son in London in 2002.
Eliza Graham’s writing is tight, her settings are detailed and her voice true, if a bit formal--which I took to reference Alix’s aristocratic background. Eliza Graham’s flashbacks are confusing at first as they jump back and forth. But the dates at the heading of each chapter and Eliza’s deft writing voice soon bring the different stories together into a cohesive and moving story of innocence, love and bravery. It is a story familiar to many who lived through the war. Reliving it through Alix’s eyes is enchanting, educational and endearing.
I want to thank Eliza Graham for the review copy of her novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to reading her prior work, Playing With The Moon.