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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2013
If you are going to write a book about Polish people you should really try to get the main protagonists names correct. Silvana Olga Valeria Dabrowski is not the name of a Polish female. Firstly, there is no "v" in the Polish alphabet. Secondly, female last name (nazwisko) should end in -ska not -ski. Latter is male. Later generations raised in English speaking countries may not have followed this "complicated" convention which is still valid in Poland.
Aurek is also a very rare name. (I am not even sure how this is pronounced in Polish).
The plight of Poland and its people during and after the war is a story worth telling but I could not continue with the book because of the annoying name errors. A good editor or some basic research/knowledge should have prevented these simple (and in my opinion unforgiveable) mistakes.
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on 4 April 2017
A polish family separated for six years due to war are reunited in England and try resume their life as if all is unchanged. They fail to share their traumas of war and struggle to find each emotional. Gives an insight into the instinct to survive and human spirit and suffering of the polish nation during ww 2.
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on 4 February 2013
This story had all the makings of a classic, but I was bored throughout and just couldn't engage with it. It was almost too ordinary. I found some elements of the story just too silly, interestingly mostly the mundane set - in - England bits. The war accounts were far more interesting. It was OK, but I wouldn't recommend it or want to read it again.
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on 24 August 2013
I love my friends but maybe if I buy books I should include a warning not to spoil it for me!ha This book was given as a gift and shared becuase it was so good and had many twists and turns not what you expect.
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on 19 July 2016
Dull.
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I chose to read this book because of my Polish heritage and the many stories I heard when I was growing up of the hardships that the Poles faced during WWII. So, when this book came along it was easy for me to want to read it.

At the beginning of WWII, a young Polish family is separated: husband Janusz goes to fight for his country leaving wife Silvana and their infant son Aurek at home in Warsaw. The next time the three are reunited it is seven years later in England, the war has ended and all have endured hardships and horrors they would rather forget. Janusz has crossed Europe and joined the RAF. Along the way he has fallen in love with a French girl. While his initial attempts to resist her become weaker, he rationalizes that his family are probably dead anyway, he ultimately gives in and falls in love with Helene. They exchange letters during the war and Janusz keeps these letters even after his reunion with his wife and son.

Silvana, I believe, has the worst of the situation. Left on her own to keep her child safe, she is in her apartment when the Germans invade Warsaw. In an attempt to flee she makes it as far as the first floor of her apartment building. She ducks into a vacated apartment and hides her son as a German officer rapes her, telling her that he would like to have her as a mistress and that he can provide for her. But she will have to lose the child. When he leaves, Silvana helps herself to extra clothing and blankets from the apartment and boards a bus with her baby. Everything goes downhill from there. She spends the remainder of the war years a step or two ahead of the German troops, essentially living and raising her son in the forest.

Janusz manages to find his way to a small English town and with Allied assistance tracks down his little family and brings them to England. Here is where the story gets interesting. Both Janusz and Silvana try to put the horrors of war behind them. They simply don't want to talk about those years. They try to become assimilated into the English way of life. Aurek, the seven year old boy, is so wild that he clings to Silvana, calling Janusz 'enemy'.

There is so much inner turmoil, with both husband and wife thinking that they have failed their spouse as well as the boy, that neither one seems to understand that the other is hurting inside. It takes another emotional upheaval, this time shared by both Janusz and Silvana, before each is willing to open their hearts and learn what the other has experienced.

The author has created extremely complex characters that carry the book forward on their own with little assistance needed from secondary characters. The story is strong, the characters are strong. We experience the horrors of war secondhand yet they seem as real as when they happened.

Although set during and after the Second World War, the inner wars that are fought by those who experience war are common to all who have fought or lived in countries torn asunder by wars regardless of the year or locale.

I highly recommend this book. I am giving it five stars for its readability and strong characters. I look forward to Ms. Hodgkison's next novel.
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on 29 February 2012
I read this for a bookclub and enjoyed it. My worry when I saw the back was that it would be bleak and depressing and full of horrific details of wars, but it isn't. It does cover some difficult themes and ideas, but in a way that doesn't revel in how awful it is, but focusses on how people get through things.

I have to say that both Silvana's and Janusk's secrets are obvious from very early on, but in many ways this doesn't matter as it is more about the way they are learning to relate to each other while coping with their pasts.

As some of the other reviewers have said, I didn't really 'get' the Silvana character - she's not 2 dimensional, but she does lack warmth, possibly due to her upbringing, which makes her difficult to like and a bit cold at times. I also didn't like the love triangle element. But these are minor points.

This is a very enjoyable read. I'd particularly recommend it for someone who wants to read about real issues without feeling like they've been emotionally beaten by the end.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the story of Silvana and Janusz, and their little boy Aurek. Silvana and Janusz were separated during the war, when Janusz joined up and Silvana was left behind to fend for herself, living in forests for much of the time.

After the war, Janusz finds Silvana and Aurek and brings them to England to live in the house he has found for them at 22 Britannia Road in Ipswich. The story is told in alternating chapters, first of all in Ipswich and then looking back on each of their separate experiences during the war.

This is a fairly bleak sort of read in a lot of ways, and quite sad, but I did enjoy it and the contrasting chapters worked very well. I also enjoyed reading about the life of foreigners in England after the end of World War II. It's a well written book and shows real promise for Amanda Hodgkinson's future novels.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Artfully told in present and past tenses, this Second World War story of the survival of a Polish family despite all odds is full of violence and sadness, grief and loss, despair and desolation, yet throughout there is hope. Silvana and Janusz both have secrets. Both young people are seared with the blood of what happened to ordinary Poles caught up in the maelstrom of German and Russian invasion. Both are traumatised by the way in which good people resort to evil when survival depends on it.

In the midst of the turmoil there is their young son, Aurek, a child who comes through impossible deprivation and sorrow, witness to horrible destruction and the worst human beings can inflict on each other, yet somehow he remains a human child with a child's natural instincts. The terrible secret at the heart of Silvana's and Aurek's story is anticipated by the clever narrative, yet is no less disturbing when revealed.

The title of the book is the ordinary address in Ipswich to which these ordinary people - made extraordinary by their experiences - come to live. The everyday humdrum details - dress, food, house and garden, shops and work, behaviour patterns - vividly illustrate the mundane lives at the end of the war. Descriptions of rationing and food shortages, the awful winter of 1947, the adaptation of Polish foreignness to the narrow ways of English neighbours, are in stark contrast to the violent unreality of war-torn Poland. The authentic authorial voice takes the reader right into the heart of post-war Britain, and then dramatically flashbacks to the grim and often gruesome events affecting Silvana and Janusz from the German invasion of Warsaw to the dislocation at the end of the war.

Amanda Hutchinson has woven a compelling tale of wartime suffering in Europe but set in the ordinary surroundings of an English country town. The main characters are strong and true and the reader, knowing both sides of their stories, waits in suspense for the denouement. Heartbreaking but hopeful, the fact that the reader knows the family survive from the outset is a relief as the unbelievably awful experiences they have to go through before they can reach safety would otherwise be unbearable. The novel also gives a great deal of insight into immigration into Britain at the end of the war, resonant all these years later, showing how little things change. Then, as now, immigrants brought with them secret histories of trauma and devastation, and the limitations of mind-set Britons who do not understand `foreigners' is given an ironic twist by the author, a blackly humorous understanding which permeates the narrative.

Second World War novels are common but this story is not: it brings the reader pleasure and pain, laughter and tears, with a heart of humanity in all its extremes, a love story with a difference and a very good read.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What can I say that hasn't already been said?

`22 Britannia Road' by Amanda Hodgkinson is the best book I have read so far this year. It is absolutely wonderful.

Amanda's ability to swap seamlessly from one time period to another makes this book extremely readable. The
characters are an interesting bunch and the three adventures contained in the story are exciting and make for
compelling reading.

The novel centres on three protagonists, Silvana, her husband Janusz and their son Aurek.

Starting with present day 1946, Silvana and Aurek are travelling to England from Poland whilst Janusz is in Ipswich, England setting up his idea of an English home and garden for his family in '22 Britannia Road'. They have not seen each other for six years, in fact they have not seen each other since the beginning of the Second World War and sadly they are not the same people, the war has affected them all and this part spread in sections throughout the book is the story of how they come to terms with everything that has happened to each of them during the war.

Other exceptional characters worth noting in this time period are neighbours Doris and her husband Gilbert, Tony
a Pet Shop owner and black market dealer and Peter his son who befriends Aurek.

Running in equal consecutive sections during the novel is the desperate story of Silvana and Aurek's time in Poland during the War from 1939 to 1946 trying hard to survive certain terrible atrocities that befall them. They meet an interesting and often frightening mix of characters and their time hiding in the forests of Poland will leave you feeling quite appalled.

During the same time 1939 - 1946, Janusz is also surviving his own war in his own way, starting in Poland where he
spends his time becoming separated from a group of men enlisting into the Polish army, then hiding from Polish
soldiers before travelling to France, staying awhile, then finally moving onto Scotland, England. Excellent characterisation to watch out for in Bruno and Franek, two outsiders that Janusz meets up with whilst still in Poland.

'22 Britannia Road' is a fantastic and exciting read, not to be missed. Equally so as a reading group read I cannot Recommend this book highly enough.
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