Apr 25, 2011

(Giveaway!) Book Review: 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson, a debut novel of postwar England


22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Penguin/Viking/Pamela Dorman Books (April 28, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-0670022632
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Four Stars

A tour de force that echoes modern classics like Suite Francaise and The Postmistress.


"Housekeeper or housewife?" the soldier asks Silvana as she and eight- year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England at the end of World War II. There her husband, Janusz, is already waiting for them at the little house at 22 Britannia Road. But the war has changed them all so utterly that they'll barely recognize one another when they are reunited. "Survivor," she answers.

Silvana and Aurek spent the war hiding in the forests of Poland. Wild, almost feral Aurek doesn't know how to tie his own shoes or sleep in a bed. Janusz is an Englishman now-determined to forget Poland, forget his own ghosts from the way, and begin a new life as a proper English family. But for Silvana, who cannot escape the painful memory of a shattering wartime act, forgetting is not a possibility.


One of the most searing debuts to come along in years, 22 Britannia Road
Light, witty, fun and entertaining this is not. Provocative, emotive and despairing it is. 22 Britannia Road follows the effects of World War II on a wife and husband who were apart for six years because of the war. Silvana and Janusz were newlyweds in Poland when Janusz goes to become a soldier, and both meet up with horrific circumstances that are beyond their control. Silvana and her son Aurek survive in the forest, making acquaintances along the way, and Janusz travels throughout Europe during the war. The novel is more character driven and not focused on the details of the war, but it was a backdrop for why these two were put in the position they were in.

Finally the two reconnect and attempt to rebuild their lives in Ipswich, England. Silvana is no longer the svelte redhead, but a gray haired mess who lived on twigs and bugs for the last six years. Their son Aurek is not quite the social butterfly. The family needs to adjust to each other, to England, and communicate through the secrets that have built walls between them. The novel's title is the address of the house that Janusz buys in England, hoping for a renewed life as an English family with English roses. They have pleasant neighbors, Janusz works hard at his job, and there should be no issues. However, there are secrets that they both keep, and the boy himself creates a lot of havoc as he doesn't fit it in at school and is not used to sharing his mother with anyone. A fantastic feature to the present story is the back and forth between time lines of the struggles during the war from each of Janusz's and Silvana's viewpoints. Sometimes this switching back and forth becomes jarring, but the author did it so well and cohesively as the underlying tone of each chapter merged with the next, it was a seamless transition.

Not just about the themes of love, friendship and loyalty, it holds the darkness of secrets and the quiet tremors of fear of one's future. The novel, along with its beautiful cover, brings about a sense of hope along with the silent plea for normalcy after such a horrific time. They all just want to be a family, but there are more than just emotional scars that hinder their progress. Laced with suspense as we watch the characters develop and self-destruct, 22 Brittania Road is a formidable page-turning debut novel that tugs at your heartstrings.

The publisher is generously offering one lucky follower their own copy of 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson!
To enter, leave a comment with your email address.
For extra entries, (+1) tweet this post, or (+1) facebook the link.
Open to USA, ends May 2nd. Good luck!

23 comments:

  1. Wow, the praises are extradinary! I love the story line. I sounds like my friend's father and mother story. Her father's grandfather was Jewish. He escaped from a country in Eastern Europe, married on the way, was hidden in the Netherlands and finally settled in Sweden to live! I am very interested in this book. Please enter me in this contest.


    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  2. My Tweeter name is Carolee888. I tweeted:

    http://www.burtonbookreview.com/2011/04/giveaway-book-review-22-britannia-road.html


    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  3. My Tweeter name is Carolee888. I tweeted:

    http://www.burtonbookreview.com/2011/04/giveaway-book-review-22-britannia-road.html


    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I posted this giveaway on my Facebook page:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Burton-Review/245069518885#!/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, this book sounds amazing! I have definitely added it to my wishlist :).
    Thanks!
    candc320@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. This book sounds pretty distressing, but I enjoy books set in WWII and post-WWII. Thanks for the giveaway.
    lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

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  7. This book sounds really interesting- thanks for the giveaway!

    Rachelhwallen@gmail.com

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  8. I'll also add 22 Britannia Road to my wish-list. The storyline is certainly different from most fiction about WWII and holds much promise of a great read. Thanks for your review and, yess, please add my name to the drawing.

    arletta_dawdy@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Would love to add this one to my collection. Sounds like a gripping read.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. This sounds like such an interesting book!

    snowdance1*at*gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've seen several reviews of this book and they are all very positive. I would love to read it.
    seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you! It sounds so interesting. I am such a sucker for WWII novels.

    I facebooked this and tweeted @vegasbookgirl

    Thanks!
    Amanda
    libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  13. No need to enter me, Marie- I just love your review of what sounds like a amazing book. Despair and the fear of imminent life or death, has got to be a grabber for sure. Thanks! Have a great week;)

    ReplyDelete
  14. My dad is a WWII survivor and I have always had a keen interest in the subject! It would be fun to read this book about the after effects of
    WWII on England and this couple...
    Many thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Doesn't this title leave you wondering what happens at this address? Sounds like an amazing read.

    ChrisyKrueger(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  16. This book looks like a good one! :)

    wingedxayase [at] yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  17. I tweeted about this giveaway here: http://twitter.com/#!/wingedxayase/status/64496484887957505

    My Twitter account is wingedxayase. ^^

    wingedxayase [at] yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Looks interesting! THanks for the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I would love to read this book.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I hope I made it in under the wire because I would really like to read this book!

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  21. FB Share: http://www.facebook.com/#!/permalink.php?story_fbid=206991146002478&id=543401866

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  22. https://twitter.com/#!/ArtsyBookishGal/status/65273781551235072

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete

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