A brilliant account of two women who lived fascinating lives centered around a man they both loved.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the personal factor in knowing this was the story of someone known by the author, told through their written records, which were discovered after their death. Katie lived a fascinating life and I thoroughly enjoyed following her relationship with Josef and experiences of life during the war.
The writing reads like you are being told the story first hand by the characters who narrate each section of the book. It made me think it would work very well as an audiobook in this sense. Personally, I did miss having more dialogue in the book though. I understand why the author chose not to imagine conversations while trying to be truthful to their friend’s records, however as a reading experience, I like dialogue to help me get to know the characters and their connections with each other.
I enjoyed both Katie and Hilda’s sections and felt invested in their journeys. It would have been lovely to have more from Josef’s perspective as the short section narrated by him was one of my favourite parts of the book, but again I understand the decision not to, as this is Katie and Hilda’s story. Josef was the link between the two women and there were so many interesting parallels and comparisons to be drawn between each of their experiences that I understand not wanting to detract from that.
The book does a good job of establishing the political context during each stage of the character’s lives. Some of these sections could be a bit dry to read, but they were vital for understanding the pressures, anxieties and motivations of the characters and the decisions they made as a result.”
Gemma F., Reedsy Discovery Review, February, 2021