After a couple of fantasy reads I was in the mood to delve back into the past. I decided to give this World War II fiction, Across Great Divides by Monique Roy, a go as it has been languishing in my to-be-read folder on my Kindle for too long.
The young and beautiful, identical twins Eva and Inge cherished their childhood. They grew up part of an affluent Jewish family, with a comfortable home in Berlin, Germany where their father owned a diamond business. The girls and their family nervously watch the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, and with it the growing restrictions to their lives. Then in 1938 after the terrifying ‘Night of the Broken Glass’ the family make the heart breaking decision to leave the only home they’ve ever known.
One night, with diamonds hidden in their clothing and belongings, they are helped to sneak over the Belgian border by Jewish sympathisers. Sadly with the outbreak of war and invasion, Belgium doesn’t stay safe for very long for the family. Though harrowing I also had to be impressed and fascinated by the long, hard and many journeys this family take. First to Belgium, then France, Spain, an ocean voyage to Brazil and then finally South Africa. All they wish for is to live free from persecution and to find a new, safe place to call home.
The majority of the story is narrated from the point of view of Eva and her sister Inge. Two young women whose hearts and minds are deeply rooted in family and faith. While on the outside, with their fair hair and blue eyes, they are not instantly recognisable as Jews; unlike many of their friends and family. The girls are joined by their parents, younger brother Max and later their spouses – all of whom also have a chance to narrate the story too. I liked these characters however I do wish their individual voices had been more unique and genuine – sadly for me all the speech/narration sounded the same except for a few colloquial phrases in different countries.
I have never read anything by Monique Roy before. I am pleased I gave this a go after being contacted by the author herself. I thought this book was nicely written with a good flow to it which helped me to skip through it really quickly. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the different countries the family travelled to and all the historical details about Germany, the war, the diamond business, Judaism, and other countries they live in. Now and again though there was a tad too much explanation. In one breakfast scene, which is all on one page, Roy described for me what Rusk biscuits, Marmite spread and Rooibos tea were – I didn’t need this explanation and so it did negatively affect my full immersion into the scene.
Overall though I found Across Great Divides to be a touching and interesting World War II drama, which I sped through. Okay read.
Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Read any other books set in WWII?