|Published March 2012|
The History Press Ireland
This beautifully written novel explores the lives of four young people whose stories intertwine during WW2. Oskar is a Luftwaffe conscript who finds his role in the war abhorrent, and as the dreams of his first love, Elsa, overshadows his hope for the future, he makes a dramatic and startling decision. Left behind in Berlin, Elsa faces a bleak future until she is safety moved to Ireland as part of the Kindertransport, where the dream of playing music carries her through the uncertainty of not knowing whether her parents remain alive. In rural Ireland, Kitty finds Oskar trapped in his parachute in one of the lime trees in her garden, and from the beginning is determined to keep him her own special secret. Meanwhile, Charlie, a young medical student, becomes enamoured of Elsa when he hears her play beautiful music on her piano.
I was completely drawn into the story from the beginning, the characterisation is truly excellent and thanks to some skilful storytelling we get to know Oskar, Elsa, Kitty and Charlie very well. The story moves adeptly through their lives, intertwining where it can, but also focusing on their individual stories, which I found deeply moving. From the sleepiness of rural Ireland, to the horrors of Berlin, the story captures time and place perfectly, where the indecision of youth is combined with the uncertainty of living through the horror of war.
Without doubt, Annemarie Neary has a real talent for writing; her ability to weave together all the strands of the story is evident in her thoughtful narrative, and with meticulous care and attention she brings the story to a fitting and emotional conclusion, which saw me reaching for the tissue box.
I loved it.