Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: The Blue Suitcase

I've mentioned author Marianne Wheelaghan a few times on this blog -- she's a self-starting writer and entrepreneur who created www.writingclasses.co.uk. She recently published her first novel, The Blue Suitcase, through Pilrig Press, and although she's not Southern (she's from Scotland, my native home), she faces the same challenges we all face. How to get the word out about her book, how to juggle writing and the rest of her life... her story is our story.

The Blue Suitcase is historical fiction, set around World War II. Antonia lives in Silesia, formerly part of Germany, with her opinionated family. Her parents are outraged that one son, Hubert, wants to join Hitler Youth and the other, Hansi, is a member of the Communist Party. Antonia's two sisters are fighting over which one of them should be sent off to become a nun. But all Antonia wants to do is celebrate her 13th birthday in peace! Things only get worse in 1933 when Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany and begins national boycotts of Jewish businesses and starts rounding up anyone who disagrees with his policies. Hansi disappears, Hubert joins the Hitler Youth march, and Antonia's mother loses her job. Women are meant to be at home taking care of the family, according to Hitler. Not surprisingly, family is the first thing to crumble under the harsh new regime.

The novel follows Antonia's struggles to find work, a home, and later simply to survive as the war ravages Germany. Marianne has flawlessly recreated images of rubble-infested Breslau and emaciated German citizens forced to evacuate their homes on foot, despite the frigid winter. It was hard to put this book down -- I had to find out what happened to Antonia, her family, and the German people. The book is all the more powerful because it's based on real events.

1 comment:

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Thanks for your wonderful review!
Just been reading the latest developments with your novel. Sounds gripping! Can't wait to read it.