I think it’s very interesting when authors write about their own families, as I’ve mentioned before (when discussing Andrea di Robilant. Michele Zackheim was researching this history, thinking she was going to write non-fiction about her distant cousins, but she was swept into the story and characters and wrote something completely different.
As you may or may not know, I have a huge interest in books written around and about the Holocaust. I think World War II was a defining moment in our history, and I like to see both non-ficition and fictional treatments of events. I’m not as interested in the military aspects of the war itself as I am in the lives of the persecuted people, both Jews and non-Jews.
This story had a slightly different angle. The narrator Rose Manon is Jewish, but wasn’t raised that way and doesn’t consider herself to be Jewish. She is a journalist, concerned with getting her stories out there and remaining objective. However, she’s swept into events that she cannot even begin to contemplate, ones that have a role in determining the rest of her life.
I really enjoyed this book. The narrator is complicated and at times unreliable. She does many things that seem inexplicable to me, but are totally in character. Her problems and issues run deep and she acknowledges this. The story is told by an older voice who interjects into the story quite often. Sometimes I thought this slowed the pace of the story and took the reader out of the narrative, but it has its own function. The novel is told as a series of memories, and you get that wandering tone from the narrator. It’s not strictly chronological, but that just adds to the retrospective feeling.
The plot is intriguing, the subject matter is complex, and the characters stick with you. I don’t think you can ask much more from any novel.
Have book suggestions for me? Thoughts on this book? Leave them in the comments.