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1940 – mid/late 1970s.
England / Germany
Let me say first of all that this a very emotional story and for a number of different reasons. It deals with two women, mother Ruth and daughter Mary who have never met. Mary was adopted at the age of seven weeks and has accepted her kind and loving foster parents as her own. She has never had any interest in finding her birth mother until her own daughter, Jenny, aged five, asks about her.
All her life (Mary is now twenty-eight) she has refused to think about her mother, assuming she had been cruelly and heartlessly given away by a woman who could not or would not love and care for her. The women tell us their stories in alternate chapters, Ruth's story being the longest. She tells in a matter of fact manner of how, as a young child, she endured and eventually survived, the death camps of Nazi Germany, returned to England and found employment as a nanny, but with unfortunate consequences.
I had a couple of niggles: the 'present day' is not defined and it took me a little time to establish that it most probably took place in the latter part of the 1970s. I felt there was some repetition when Ruth is arguing with her employers and trying to defend her actions. There were also a (very) few typos.
Those issues apart, it is a book about the sheer horrors the Jewish people faced at the hands of the Nazis, the attitudes of post war life towards unmarried mothers, the actions of a refuge for 'girls in trouble' run by Catholic nuns, a mother who regrets her own actions and a daughter who condemns her mother without knowing anything about her. The ending is simple but none the less emotional.
© Richard Tearle
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