My first Random House Read for May is The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook. Before I spend the next 300 words or so praising the crap out of this novel, I’d like to share the synopsis with you.
Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan is requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife, Rachael, and only remaining son, Edmund.
But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatized daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged and claustrophobic atmosphere all must confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.
The Aftermath is a stunning novel about our fiercest loyalties, our deepest desires and the transformative power of forgiveness.
The Aftermath is officially in my top three favourite historical fiction novels of all time, tied with The Purchase and The Aviator’s Wife. It is a wonderful story about forgiveness, loyalties, and giving into your deepest desires. Rhidian Brook has created a complex story with unbelievably real characters, characters you can feel sympathy for, characters you can have a connection with. Each character experiences some kind of loss — a loss so heartbreaking that none of them know quite how to face it. This story is as much about trying to rebuild a nation, as it is about rebuilding relationships and having sympathy and compassion for your fellow human beings.
A huge part in my love for this novel has to do with the flawless writing. It’s smooth, concise, descriptive, and wonderfully thought-provoking. I love how Rhidian Brook allows you to see and understand so many sides of the same story. The way his writing shows you something extremely important about humanity: that we all feel pain and we all heal differently. That forgiveness can literally save lives.
What else can I say about this novel? Well, I don’t want to say too much or I’ll ruin it for you, but I will say that there were so many twists and turns I could barely keep up. I was literally on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, waiting for something to happen (or not happen). I strongly suggest that you add it to your “to read” list — it comes out on May 7th 2013.
He could see a whole new city growing out of the desolation. A fine city fit for children, parents and grandparents, lovers and seekers, for the broken and the fixed, the missing and the missed, the lost and the refound.”