The Back of the Book
She listens to everyone else’s story, but can she find her own? Jenni is ‘ghost’ writing the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well – still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others than to dwell on her own. Klara was a child in the Second World War, interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation. She has never spoken of her experiences there, but as she turns eighty, she knows that the time has come to share her extraordinary story of survival. As Jenni helps Klara to shed light on her childhood, and a neglected part of world history, she is forced to explore her own past, too. Can Jenni and Klara help each other to lay the ghosts of their pasts to rest?
Originally this book landed on my doorstep from the lovely Hollie at Books on the Underground. After spreading her love on the underground for many lucky readers a copy winged its way to me and after the previous smasher of a book I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. At first look the book and title did not look like my kind of thing, however not being one to completely judge a book by its beautifully wistful cover I read the back. May I just say Isabel Wolff has a very interesting way with words that had me hooked from just the back. A secret fan of history and having travelled around the outskirts of where parts of this book was actually taken back to in the main story lines I wanted more already. Java here I come – fictionally of course!
Day 2 of reading and the pace was slow as work was heavy and time was thin on the ground. On my next day off I decided to push everything else to one side and just read and boy am I glad I did. Through tears of anguish, hurt and just pure joy this book was a roller coaster of emotions that if the reader can embrace will love the book just like I did.
Jenni being the main character has quite a story that I will not give away as you clearly want to read the book yourself (!). Whilst writing under a bushel and in the shadows of those around her (so to speak!) the other main character Klara as she gives up more of herself can see it happening it front of her eyes. When both parties realise that their encounter by a previous chance meeting is one that neither of them have ever forgotten and will never forget in the future a dear, close friendship is formed and the bond is one that seems everlasting.
The research that must have gone into this book seems immense as the facts just keep pouring in and the mind boggles as to how some of the people in those days got through such awful times. This book makes you grateful for the world that we have today and take a step back and take stock instead of taking advantage of all of the luxuries and wonderful opportunities we have in front of us that those fought for and never had.
A beautiful tale of how two very different people can feel very similar things from extremely different experiences but share something wonderful together. There is a lot of good feeling in this book but also a lot of gut wrenching story telling which Wolff really builds and leaves you in suspense just gagging for me.
Top read and highly recommended for the summer ahead even those snuggly evenings with a G&T when you just don’t want to leave the house.
I can see myself digging out A Vintage Affair and cracking on soon!