Victoria's War

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Aug 2020

Member Reviews

This story is written in parallel to each of the two of the main female characters but from different scenarios and events colliding together at a point and then separating only for one to understand her destination of death with the other to grow in bravery beyond her own imagination.

To the disbelief of Victoria Darski with just two hours to go before she is due to catch her train to start university, bags packed, an announcement is made over the radio that the Nazis have invaded their country, Poland. A full scale invasion of armed soldiers and tanks. At the same time there is a further announcement that the university has been closed. Believing that the Allies will come to Poland's aid, Victoria holds onto the hope that she will still start university. However, German orders are that no one is to leave their homes until their identifications are issued. This puts a strain on the family with Victoria and her sister Elizabeth quarrelling and their mother trying to make the best of things. Elizabeth is fourteen and it seems left to do many of the household chores while Victoria a little recalcitrant still fantasises about her university dream. It's not until the first visit by the Nazis that the realisation of what fate is about to deal to them becomes clear. Elizabeth is killed by the soldiers in their home. It's this event that haunts Victoria as the story unfolds.

Etta is a deaf German girl whose parents run a Bakery. They are true Nazi believers with their son Wolfgang an SS officer. Etta's mother has one thorn in her side that in her delusional mind she has an imperfect daughter, so, not in tune with the Fuhrer's idealism for his superior race. Etta suffers torment from her mother with the constant threat of being sent to an institution. This unkind behaviour is not shared by Etta's father or brother who show her love, sign to her in conversation and for Etta along with her love of art helps her to endure her mother's scourge.  Her studio is in an attic room where she can escape to and wonders, if she will ever, at some time be able attend art school.

After initially being sent as a machinist in a clothing factory through being at the wrong place at the wrong time Victoria finds herself a prisoner from a round up by German soldiers of those in the Resistance. Sharing her fate is her childhood foreign language teacher who embarks on dragging from Victoria's memory the German taught to her at that time. Mrs Koser is the force by which Victoria's bravery begins to grow within her. She is assigned as a worker for the bakery and even though she is badly treated by Etta's parents for the first time in Etta's life she finds Victoria an agreeable companion, a pretend sister, someone to share her dreams with. Eventually through developing circumstances they form a team whereby they are able to help those in the prison camps until Etta finds herself sent away to the place she has always feared. Victoria is deeply affected by Etta's forced removal which makes her more determined to continue with the routine that they had started and she embarks on adding more life saving deliveries for the prisoners until she is discovered.
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This story kept me reading long into the night. Well developed characters brought a glimpse inside this terrible time in history. Characters’ moral dilemmas, faith and basic humanity were brought to light and explored. I enjoyed having several viewpoints and became connected enough to shed a few tears.  The author obviously is very connected and researched in great detail the subject matter. Well written and highly recommend.
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Many thanks to Mindbuck Media for getting in touch with me to read and review “Victoria’s War”, I’m so very glad to have had the opportunity.

Telling the story of just some of the situations women faced in occupied Poland and Germany during the second World War, this hard hitting and at times out right harrowing book really doesn’t hold back. The language used is somewhat simplistic, and while in some situations that would be a criticism, in this case it actually works in the book’s favour; it gives more power and responsibility to the actions discussed rather than the words.

Victoria is getting ready to start university on the day that war is declared in Poland. Life changes in an instant, as it does for the other women we meet throughout the course of the novel. There are some situations that can be read about as pure facts without absorption, but when applied to characters you feel a connection to, the impact of what you know changes.

What is particularly clever as a writing technique about this novel is the use of German as a tactic to get across just how overwhelming the language barrier would be. To not only be treated in the way these women are, but to be shouted at in another tongue, where you know only the bare minimum.

Catherine A. Hamilton touchingly includes the family inspiration for this novel at the beginning, and this stayed with me as I read the book; people I’ve never met, but real people, undergoing the situations and treatment I was reading about.

This book manages to tread the delicate line of high impact and easy reading, which is a difficult balance to achieve. I read this book in a day, because I simply couldn’t put it down, and needed to know what happened to everyone involved. As always with stories of war and terror, it isn’t a pleasant read as such, yet manages to be enjoyable whilst breaking your heart.

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a war fiction novel, or a story of how women have been mistreated. We so often feel the brute force of war without being on the front line, and this is just one story of how. It was intriguing, painful, and beautiful.
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