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A Stranger In The Family
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'Suspects galore, great relish in the writing, gleeful deceiving stuff' John Coleman, Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Robert Barnard is the winner of the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievemetn and the Nero Wolfe Award, as well as the Agatha and Macavity awards. An eight-time Edgar nominee, he is a member of Britain's distinguished Detection Club, and in May 2003, he received the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement in mystery writing. His most recent novel is A Stranger in the Family, published by Scribner in 2010. He lives with his wife, Louise, in Leeds, England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Intriguing is the correct adjective for this book. It isn't a classic story that you can pigeonhole - there is a bit of everything in it with some threads left open to the reader's interpretation.
Kit Philipson was abducted at the age of 3 whilst on a family holiday in Sicily. He grows up in a very loving family becoming a well rounded and intelligent young man. He discovers the truth about his "adoption" when his adoptive mother dies and goes in search of his new family and the truth surrounding his abduction. There was a lot more to Kit's abduction than is apparent at first glance. Kit follows the trail through the into the past to two small children on the last train for Jewish children out of Nazi Germany.
There is much more to this book than meets the eye. At first glance some of the characters seem rather stereotypical and very black and white but as the story develops there are little hints about the complexities of their characters. Isla the Mother who lost her son welcomes him with open arms but Kit soon realises that their relationship is expected to be on her terms. Kit struggles to form relationships with his new found siblings - they don't seem that keen to have him back but is it all really about money or is it about their own insecurities? There are numerous ways to interpret situations and people within this book. I have a feeling that I shall find myself wondering about this book for several more days.
This is a slow, quite ambling book without any real action. However it caught and kept my attention the whole way through. It is easy to read and not terribly long so absolutely perfect for a quiet evening in.
"A Stranger in the Family", Barnard's latest, has no murders, other than those murdered by the Nazis and their allies. The plot, which ranges in time from the 1930's to modern days, ties the Kindertransport of 1939 to a more modern child abduction. Two boys, both three years old, are taken from their families. One, Jurgen Greenspan, is sent out of Germany on the last Kindertransport with his slightly older sister, Hilde and raised in England by adopted parents. The other, Peter Novello, is snatched from his parents while vacationing in Sicily and is adopted by the now-grown Jurgen and his wife in Glasgow. Only on his adopted mother's deathbed, does she tell Peter, referred to as Kit by his adoptive parents, the name of his birth mother. After her death, Kit tracks down his birth family in Leeds and is accepted by his mother, estranged father, and siblings with varying degrees of warmth.
Kit sets out to discover how he was taken from Sicily and ended up in Glasgow. His journey of discovery takes him to London, Vienna, and Sicily, touching on people's memories of the times and events. Few people in the book are all good or all bad (except Peter's birth father, who's an unreconstructed "baddie"); Barnard draws all his characters with a nuanced touch sadly missing in many works of fiction.
There's very little physical action in the book; the action is nearly all of the mind. Barnard's books are pure gems and thankfully he's a fairly prolific writer.
The central idea for the plot is very good but it is wasted here, because most of the central characters are only described during the aforementioned dialogue; we never actually get to meet most of them. Consequently, it was hard to care when a fresh revelation was made about them.
A minor irritation for me was that the name of Kit's brother-in-law changes half way through the book from Ivor to Ivan. I don't know if this was a mistake by the author, but any editor worth their salt should have noticed such a glaring error and corrected it before the book was anywhere near being published.
I have only given this book 2 stars instead of 1 because the idea was such an intriguing one, and the prologue was nicely set up, but it all went rapidly downhill from there and I only finished it because I didn't have anything else to read at the time.
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