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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Nigel Farndale – The Road Between Us

Review written by showhost June 2015.

There are two parallel stories and two generations throughout the book.
The story begins in London, 1939, just before outbreak of the war.  Charles, an RAF pilot and artist, is with his lover Anselm, a German artist working in London, in a hotel room in Piccadilly. A maid enters and finds them in the nude in a compromised position.  She alerts the authorities and they are both arrested.  Charles is stripped of his commission for 'conduct unbecoming', and Anselm is sent home to Germany where he is considered a degenerate by the SS so is convicted of 'degenerate behaviour' and sentenced to re-education in a concentration camp.  Charles vows to find him.

The story then moves to 2012.  Edward has been a hostage in Afghanistan for 11 years.  He has been kept in a cave.  When the ransom is finally paid and he returns home it is to a deceased wife and his only child hannah, now grown up but looks a replica of her mother.  Edward keeps calling his daughter Freya, his wifes name.  Edward has trouble adjusting to his new life, with eyesight, memory and hearing impaired.

The story moves back and forwards from Charles and Anselm, to Edward and Hannah.  Charles gets his chance to find Anselm when he is commissioned to be a war artist at the D-Day landings.
Edward begins to puzzle over why was his ransom finally paid and by whom?  And tries to control the slowly wakening emotions for his daughter.

It was a well written book and once I got back into the story I became engrossed in it but you need a good length of reading time.  I found dipping in and out over short bursts a little distracting.  I skipped over some of the more descriptive prose (as the story progressed) when it was about present day.  What stopped me from saying it was a brilliant book I couldn’t quite decide. But having read other reviews I think it was the lack of character build for the female characters and sometimes confusing dialogue or meaning of the dialogue from Hannah.  I much preferred the story around Charles and Anselm not that the subject matter was enjoyable, far from it, it was disturbing and real.

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