Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011: By the end of World War II, Silvana is a ghost of the wife Janusz once had. She and their 7-year-old son Aurek travel from Poland to England to reunite their family--a family that has been separated for 6 years. That's where 22 Britannia Road, Amanda Hodgkinson's stunning debut novel, begins. As the past unfolds from multiple points of view, it becomes clear that despite their determination to make a fresh start, the hidden secrets of the past threaten to destroy Silvana and Janusz's dreams of becoming a family once again. The irreversible events that passed during their years of separation still linger, including the horrors of war, Janusz's betrayal by a love affair with another woman, and the devastating secret that Silvana will do anything to conceal. Hodgkinson's poetic voice is impossible to forget, and the shocking and hopeful ending of her remarkable historical novel will leave readers reeling--and satisfied. --Miriam Landis
Title: 22 Britannia Road
Source: ARC won at Goodreads
Publication: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking 2011
Janusz, Silvana and their son Aurek are a young Polish family just beginning their lives together when Poland is invaded by the Russians and Germans. The family gets separated. Janusz joins the Military and eventually ends up in England. Silvana and Aurek are left in Poland to fend for themselves. In order to survive, Silvana and Aurek take to the forest. For six long years, they wander from place to place just trying to survive. They hide in hollowed out trees, and are constantly filthy and are on the verge of becoming as wild as the animals they live amongst. They eventually end up in a refugee camp, where Janusz finally locates them. Janusz is living in England and brings Silvana and Aurek to England with hope of finally having the life with his family that they all deserve. Unfortunately, all three have changed very much since before the war and they all have secrets they keep from each other. These secrets threaten to tear the family apart.
It is hard to believe that this is Amanda Hodgkinson's first novel. Just when you think you have learned everything about Janusz, Silvana and Aurek, Amanda Hodgkinson totally surprises you with new information. She puts so much emotional feeling into each character that sometimes their suffering threatens to rip your heart out.
I won this book on goodreads, but I had planned to read it anyway. So, when I won this copy, I was very happy. I highly recommend this book as I have enjoyed it very much!
From the last page in the book(this passage sums the story up so well, i had to include it)
"Forgetfulness comes softly over the years. In time, Aurek will grow up thinking of England as his home. But still, as an adult, when he sees his mother staring out of the window or his father silent in his armchair, he wonders how hard it must have been for them both, leaving Poland to give him a safe life. A shadow of a memory will move in his mind then, quick, like a small boy playing hide and seek, running barefoot through through the rooms of 22Britannia Road.
Thee shared ghost, he believes, of their old country."