Mandy J, Reviewer
This presents as a novel but reads much more like a memoir and as far as I can make out is very firmly based on the author’s own life and family, including her later career trajectory. So I’m not quite sure what has been gained by writing it as a novel, although perhaps because the author is a poet she found it easier to write lyrically and poetically in a work of so-called fiction. The book describes the experiences of the Slovenian-speaking minority in Carinthia, southern Austria, during and after the Second World War. Many of them fought the Nazis as partisans; many were deported to the camps. The trauma of the individuals within the community and the community itself are vividly portrayed and the experience of the narrator’s grandmother in Ravensbruck is particularly devastating to read about. As the narrator learns about her family’s past and begins to understand the damage done she has to come to terms with it all and the ways it has affected her family. In many ways it’s a moving and often chilling account, but I found the poetic style a bit too much at times, and I never fully engaged with the narrator. Certainly I was interested to learn of this little-known episode in WWII history, but it was not a book I particularly enjoyed.