Most helpful positive review
65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2012
Without going into too many details in respect of the plot, this is a startlingly original novel. Relatively little has been written about Romania or its experience of the second world war, which lends an entirely new perspective to what may otherwise have been a very familiar theme.
Augustin's story, and in particular the horrors to which he was subjected during the occupation of Romania, is conveyed with extraordinary poignancy. However, it is the unfolding of the events in the summer months leading up to the outbreak of war which is truly mesmerising.
Georgina's Harding's evocation of time and place is superb, and absorbs the reader completely in to the life and characters of Poiana. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia pervades the novel, for a golden age lost and forever irrecoverable, particularly for Safta. The prose is spare and beautiful, and draws the reader entirely in to the carefree, but restless atmosphere of the great house and its inhabitants.
The tragedy of the central characters is deeply and effortlessly conveyed, and haunts you long after finishing the novel, in spite of the story's uplifting ending.
This book is just over 300 pages long, but it seemed much shorter and I really didn't want it to end. It is easily the best book I've read so far this year.