Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Parachute in the Lime Tree - Annemarie Neary

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I don't mind what a book is about, as long as I can enjoy reading it.  And as I only review and recommend books I've enjoyed, you will probably have noticed a dearth of reviews recently, due to several duff books passing through my hands!  This does not fall into the duff category - indeed, it was rather a novelty for me as it was a love story, and that is not my usual genre.  But a quite different kind of love story from those modern chick-lit tales, churned out by the dozen by publishers who know how to make a lot of money fast.
Four young people – two of them German.  One an  Luftwaffe conscript, and one a young Jewish pianist, which live next door to each other in Berlin;  and two of them Irish – one a young girl caring for her widowed mother, and the other a trainee doctor in Dublin.  Their stories are knitted together beautifully.
Oskar who we meet first, is young, has high morals, and intensely dislikes the Nazi party and all they stand for, but cannot find a way out when he is conscripted into their airforce. Elsa is his "girl next door", literally.  They have known each other since childhood in their home city, Berlin.  And then, in 1941 when she is 17 and he just a little older, their world falls apart, and she finds herself just being young enough for the Kindertransport from Germany, and is put on the train, bound eventually for Belfast, by parents who she must leave behind in Holland, where they have fled away from anti-Jewish Germans.

Charlie and Kitty?  They are both Irish, Charlie training to be a doctor in Dublin, Kitty at home in the countryside, caring for her recently widowed mother.

Fate has a tangled web prepared for those four. They do not all meet each other, but their youthful lives are each affected by the others and the author has managed to do this seamlessly and beautifully, with plenty of research to back the story up; and I will certainly be looking out for another tale from her.  Well done Annmarie Neary!