A few weeks ago I tried an experiment. My kids never give me enough time (or peace) to peruse the stacks at the library and so I went to the new release hardback section and grabbed something from the first group. I picked, at random, Skeletons At The Feast.
It’s the story of three separate groups and how their paths cross during World War II. There is a family and their POW escaping West trying to stay one step ahead of the Russians who are pressing on. There is a young Jewish man who jumped off of the train that was taking him to a work camp and is now trying to find his sister. And there is a Jewish woman who is at a work camp trying to keep her hope alive and the hopes of those around her.
This book seemed to last longer than World War II. Because the subject matter was depressing and heavy, this book was really easy to put down and keep it down.
You will not find many happy endings but you will be relieved that the end has finally arrived!
From Publishers Weekly:
In his 12th novel, Bohjalian (The Double Bind) paints the brutal landscape of Nazi Germany as German refugees struggle westward ahead of the advancing Russian army. Inspired by the unpublished diary of a Prussian woman who fled west in 1945, the novel exhumes the ruin of spirit, flesh and faith that accompanied thousands of such desperate journeys. Prussian aristocrat Rolf Emmerich and his two elder sons are sent into battle, while his wife flees with their other children and a Scottish POW who has been working on their estate. Before long, they meet up with Uri Singer, a Jewish escapee from an Auschwitz-bound train, who becomes the group’s protector. In a parallel story line, hundreds of Jewish women shuffle west on a gruesome death march from a concentration camp. Bohjalian presents the difficulties confronting both sets of travelers with carefully researched detail and an unflinching eye, but he blinks when creating the Emmerichs, painting them as untainted by either their privileged status, their indoctrination by the Nazi Party or their adoration of Hitler. Although most of the characters lack complexity, Bohjalian’s well-chosen descriptions capture the anguish of a tragic era and the dehumanizing desolation wrought by war.