Often, when we think of WWII, we think about the Holocaust and the Jewish people who suffered unspeakably at the hands of the Nazis. However, the suffering did not stop there. 22 Britannia Road is a fictional novel that seeks to explore the suffering and recovery of a Polish family who had been separated for six years during the war and later reunited in England.
Hodgkinson shuffles together the family’s present with clips of their past as they became a family, and as they suffered through the war separately: the father joining the British troops and the mother and son left behind in Poland. Each time she shuffles in a part of their past, it helps to shed light on why they may react to their present as they do. All the father wants is to live a perfectly normal British life in such a way as to make his own father proud. The mother longs to give her son a normal family with a father to love and be loved by. The son, on the other hand, has grown up since toddler hood in the horrors of war. Surviving those horrors is his normal. So the question becomes, will they all be able to give up their notions of “normal” and accept the harsh realities of their life as it has been, in order to grow together from there? Or, will father and mother cling to “normal,” continue to hide from the past, and end up loosing what they had hoped to reestablish: family?
As in all stories relating to the horrors of WWII, not every scene is a pretty one, however, Hodgkinson does keep such scenes to a relative minimum. It is still often heartbreaking and quite suspenseful. It also gives the reader a picture of female survival from different characters’ perspectives throughout the book and how female sexuality plays into that according to the author.
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson is not a light read, but it is a well thought out and thought provoking one.
Alyssa is a wife and stay at home, homeschooling mother of five, with two boxers, two cats, a soft shelled turtle named after Bob the Builder, and 7 frogs (admittedly a homeschooling project gone froggy). In all her spare time, she loves to read and believes that there is no such thing as having too many books!
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Pamela Dorman Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.