Review Blog

Nov 30 2018

The Survivors by Kate Furnivall

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Simon and Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781471172304
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Kate Furnivall's latest historical novel is an epic page turner. Klara Janowska is a displaced, widowed, Polish resistance fighter, awaiting relocation in a fictional refugee camp in post-war Germany. Graufeld is indeed a 'gray field', an uncertain limbo between the terrors of war and refugee settlement. It is a dangerous place to be with your 10yr old daughter, but they are warm and fed, unlike many Germans - that is until Klara spots a Nazi officer from Warsaw in the camp.
Davide, a fellow survivor and aide to Coloniel Whitmore, is soon attracted to the feisty Polish woman rescuing her more than once as her attempts to prevent the menace that Oskar Scholz poses, go awry. But the pair are not the only people hiding a secret identity and gradually the details of Klara's survival unfold.
Equally, Alicja, Klara's daughter, is an appealing child who reciprocates her mother's love by scheming to protect her too. Klara's friend Hanna the camp laundress, and her son Rafal, are interesting counterparts to the popular mother and daughter.
Furnivall's edge-of-the-seat narrative, where the main characters are fully fleshed out by wartime flashbacks, allow us to experience many recurrences of the duality within each character and between wholly good or evil characters.
Complete with a 'Great Read Woman's Weekly' sticker, this adult novel is not merely a 'Mata Hari' type account of survival during the war. Rather it informs its readers about the conditions immediately after the second world war - economic circumstances and political events not nearly as well known. Seniors and staff will consume this skilfully written wartime mystery.
Deborah Robins

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