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A page turner
This novel is a narrative. A historically well researched tome. A bird's eye view of the last months of WW II as experienced by a German family. It makes one cry, laugh and be proud to be a member of the human race. A trek on foot, across snowy, frozen Germany in the last months of the war. With dangers lurking behind every tree and inside every barn. A tale of heartbreak, loss, love and resilience of the human spirit.
For Me, a Very Special Book!
Much has been said in other reviews about the plot, so I won't go there. This book gripped me in its pages, and occasionally I would be so caught up in the characters' lives that I'd have to put the book down for awhile and think about something else. It was a close look into the lives of the German citizens, who had to cope with a war that they never wanted. At one point in the story German mother, Mutti Emmerich, said, "We have no one to blame but ourselves for the situation we are in." That is small consolation when you are slogging through the freezing countryside for weeks, trying to escape the Soviets. The whole book was just a close look into a time and place in history that I knew very little about.
A descriptive heart-wrenching view of World War II
Chris Bohjalian has certainly tackled a myriad of subjects: midwives and the stigma of birth defects in the early 60s, trans-gendered relationships in the present day and even revisiting the Great Gatsby. In his latest novel we are drawn into the end of World War II as Germany is collapsing. As usual, his characters are fascinating, multi-dimensional people we want to know more about. Getting the story from the German perspective as the family flees their homeland we gain an appreciation of what the ordinary German population was living through at the time. The parallel story of the Jewish women having to march through the countryside from the concentration camp gives us an appalling, clear view of the tragedies of war - especially this one. Having also recently read "The True Story of Hansel and Gretel" by Louise Murphy, I find I want to learn more about this devastating period in our history.
Skeletons at the Feast
Skeletons at the Feast is at once graphically disturbing and heart wrenching. Bohjalian excels at bringing forth the exodus from Poland and escape from the Third Reich during the Second World War. Told through the eyes of haunting characters, including a POW, an escaped Jew, and a Polish family who initially thrived under Nazi power, it is impossible not to empathize with each of their experiences and stand in admiration of their spirit and fortitude.
skeletons at the feast
I'm usually anxious to read new books by Chris Bohjalian, but was disappointed by this one. I felt his war scenes were too graphic and the story line wasn't as interesting as his other books. I don't think I'd recommend the book, but will look forward to his future books.
Skeletons at the Feast
In the past several years, I have read enough books depicting the lives of average German citizens during WWII to realize that as hard as it is for Americans to understand, many Germans were unaware of the use of Hitler's death camps to systematically eliminate the Jews. This was one of the themes in Skeletons at the Feast.
We meet a group of people from different backgrounds bound together by a shared goal of moving across Germany during a bitter winter in order to reach the American and British troops. I had a hard time keeping everyone straight in the beginning as the story moved from one group to another, but I quickly become invested in the story and the characters. I did wonder if a family of prosperous German farmers would be as noble as the Emmerichs were in their suffering, but I was caught up in their struggle to survive nonetheless.
This is a story of sacrifice, tragedy, bravery, and a will to survive. I recommend it to adult readers who want a deeper understanding of life in WWII Germany.
This book offered an interesting historical perspective, that of the experience of German refugees facing the last days of the second World War. Also of interest is a recurring theme of journeying--away from home and life before the ravages of war, and toward an unknown future, or death. However, the flaws in the book all but outweigh the interest. The characters are hastily drawn and never developed satisfactorily. But the primary flaw in this novel is a narrative voice (and even dialogue) that clearly belong to a twenty-first century American male, which at best is distracting, and at worst is downright annoying. There are much better and more moving Holocaust novels out there.
Skeletons at the Feast
Once again, Chris Bohjalian has written an extremely absorbing novel which I enjoyed very much. We see the last days of World War II from several different perspectives and look forward to learning how the various story lines will weave together. In this novel, the reader feels for individuals on different sides of the war.
I would definitely recommend it to book clubs as there is much to discuss. Bohjalian is remarkable for intertwining different perspectives and his novels really stay in the reader's mind well after completing them.