Tuesday 13 November 2018

Review ~ Testament by Kim Sherwood

I always try to have a Remembrance Read on the go in November

12 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Her family was always complicated. It's why Eva was closest to her grandfather: a charismatic painter - and a keeper of secrets. So when he dies, she's hit by a greater loss - of the questions he never answered, and the past he never shared.

It's then she finds the letter from the Jewish Museum in Berlin. They have uncovered the testimony he gave after his forced labour service in Hungary, which took him to the death camps and then to England as a refugee. This is how he survived.

But there is a deeper story that Eva will unravel - of how her grandfather learnt to live afterwards. As she confronts the lies that have haunted her family, their identity shifts and her own takes shape. The testament is in her hands.

My thoughts about it..

When Eva's beloved grandfather dies she's realises that his death brings about far more questions than it does answers for it would seem that Joseph Silk has not been entirely truthful about his experiences during the Second World War.

Skillfully blending the past with the present a story emerges of a dark and shadowy time when Joseph was forced to work in horrendous circumstances in a labour camp in Hungary. His survival, from this dreadful time, was something he carried with him for the rest of his life, and yet, he didn't want to be defined by the terrible things he had witnessed. After his death, certain documents come to light which reveal more details about Joseph's WW2 experiences, and following a trip to the Jewish Museum in Berlin to read these documents, Eva must come to terms with the secrets  her grandfather had kept hidden for so long. A  burden of secrets and heartbreaking memories which Joseph Silk had wanted to be kept hidden forever.

Testament is a beautifully written and very moving story about the trauma of living through the holocaust and of the guilt and confusion of being one of the survivors. It's about the terror of being displaced without the shelter of home and family, and of the uncertainty of making a new future when all seemed hopeless.

A commendable and poignant debut novel from a talented new writer.

About the Author

Kim Sherwood was born in Camden in 1989. She studied on the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, going on to teach creative writing at UEA and the University of Sussex. Kim's stories and articles have appeared in numerous journals, including Mslexia, Lighthouse, and Going Down Swinging. The manuscript of her debut novel, Testament, won the 2016 Bath Novel Award. Kim began writing Testament in 2011 after her grandfather, the actor George Baker, passed away. In the same year, Kim's grandmother began to talk about her experiences as a Holocaust Survivor for the first time. These events provided seeds for a story that grew as Kim undertook research into the events of  the Holocaust in Hungary, and as extremism rose again across Europe.

Kim lives in Bath. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of the West of England. Testament is her first novel.

Twitter @kimtsherwood #Testament

@riverrunbooks @QuercusBooks

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