10 July, 2014

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook (Biddy, Highland Park)

An enthralling read about post-war Germany. Colonel Lewis Morgan is posted to Hamburg in 1946. His task is to oversee the reconstruction of this devastated city and turn the pro-Nazi population into abiding citizens accepting of the regime established by the occupiers. Morgan is joined by his wife, Rachael, grieving the loss of their elder son in the war, and Edmund, now their only child.

Morgan makes a courageous move when he offers to share the substantial house requisitioned for him and his family with the house's owner, a German widower and his daughter. Neither his colleagues nor his wife are comfortable with the arrangement but he insists that he cannot turn the German family out of their home to go onto a camp.The house is, he explains, .."more than my family needs, and certainly more than we are used to ."

The author paints a fascinating picture of life in post-war Germany, a period not frequently covered in novels. Emotions encountered are strong in this society of displaced, desperate people living alongside the British occupiers, some empathetic and some taking advantage of their elevated status in elegant requisitioned homes.  Brook tackles this strong subject matter evocatively and yet without sentimentality.

Characters are real and it is difficult not to feel sympathy for those on both sides. The plot is far from predictable as surprising relationships develop and scenes from their various pasts are revealed.

There is talk of a movie in the works and the plot and characters would certainly convert well on to the screen.

Title: The Aftermath
Author: Rhidian Brook
Publisher: Viking, London
Date: 2013
ISBN: 9780670921126

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