Synopses & Reviews
A tour de force that echoes modern classics like Suite Francaise and The Postmistress.
"Housekeeper or housewife?" the soldier asks Silvana as she and eight- year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England at the end of World War II. There her husband, Janusz, is already waiting for them at the little house at 22 Britannia Road. But the war has changed them all so utterly that they'll barely recognize one another when they are reunited. "Survivor," she answers.
Silvana and Aurek spent the war hiding in the forests of Poland. Wild, almost feral Aurek doesn't know how to tie his own shoes or sleep in a bed. Janusz is an Englishman now-determined to forget Poland, forget his own ghosts from the way, and begin a new life as a proper English family. But for Silvana, who cannot escape the painful memory of a shattering wartime act, forgetting is not a possibility.
One of the most searing debuts to come along in years, 22 Britannia Road. is the wrenching chronicle of how these damaged people try to become, once again, a true family. An unforgettable novel that cries out for discussion, it is a powerful story of primal maternal love, overcoming hardship, and, ultimately, acceptance-one that will pierce your heart.
"In her powerful debut, Hodgkinson takes on the tale of a family desperately trying to put itself back together after WWII. Silvana and Janusz have only been married a few months when the war forces them apart. Silvana and their infant son, Aurek, leave Poland and disappear into the forests of Eastern Europe, where they bear witness to German atrocities. Meanwhile Janusz, the sole survivor of his slaughtered military unit, flees to France. There, he takes up with a local girl and, though he loves her, awaits the war's end so that he can go in search of his wife and son. He eventually finds them in a refugee camp and they travel to England together, where they attempt to put the past behind them. But the secrets they carry pull at the threads of their fragile peace. Hodgkinson alternates viewpoints to relay the story of three desperate characters, skillfully toggling between the war and its aftermath with wonderfully descriptive prose that pulls the reader into a sweeping tale of survival and redemption. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Hodgkinson's portrait of the primal bond between mother and child . . . leaves an indelible impression." —The New York Times Book Review
Debuting its first week on the New York Times bestseller list and earning comparisons to Sophie's Choice and Sarah's Key, 22 Britannia Road is an astonishing first novel that powerfully chronicles one family's struggle to create a home in the aftermath of war.
With World War II finally over, Silvana and her seven-year-old son, Aurek, board the ship that will take them to England, where Silvana's husband, Janusz—determined to forget his ghosts—has rented a little house at 22 Britannia Road. But after years spent hiding in the forests of Poland, Aurek is wild, almost feral. And for Silvana, who cannot escape the painful memory of a shattering wartime act, forgetting is not a possibility.
About the Author
"A riveting historical novel, set in post-WWII England, about a Polish couple reunited after enduring-and committing-crimes of love and war."
-O, the Oprah Magazine
"Hodgkinson's debut is an eloquent, heart-wrenching account of one couple's struggle to reunite as a family after devastating wartime experiences. A stellar example of literary WWII fiction."
"What comes after surviving? asks Hodgkinson in her ambitious, emotionally incisive first novel threaded with primitive human instincts for safety and companionship. Hodgkinson enters boldly into well-trodden, sensitive territory and distinguishes herself with freshness and empathy."
-Kirkus (starred review)
"Fans of novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Sarah's Key, who can never have too much of a good war story, will warm to this fine debut. Recommended."