This book is a beautifully written account of the most horrific and shameful episode in history. Delbo was not Jewish - she says that if she had been she would not have survived, as Jews were treated even more abominably the she and her fellow resistance members were.
It is writing in the mould of Primo Levi: an unsensationalist, down-to-earth account of daily life in Hell, and the effects it has on those whose bodies survive the experience. It is written as short, poignant and stories recounting particular incidents, days, individuals. It does not wallow in the horror, but describes feelings and emotions in detail, and is all the more powerful for it.
I read one brief account at church as my sermon on Holocaust Memorial Day. No-one who heard it remained untouched. People's response was that it broke their hearts and touched them deeply.
How can you review a book like this? All I can say is that it I read it a couple of years ago and I've read it many times since. So often I'll be walking down the street or in work ands all of a sudden I'll remember a passage from the book and I'll just stop in my tracks. Its beautifully written, the translation is excellent its haunting and almost lyrical you don't read it as much as swim through the words. Of course its disturbing - its effected me much more that any other holocaust literature I've ever read but I was able to read it without analysing every phrase and word somethig I've enevr escaped when readingf Levi. It made me feel humbled and sad but strangely refreshed. The women Delbo remembers and Delbo herself remind me so much of my friends and me and maybe that's the most uncomfortable about about the book.