A poignant must-read début novel

Amanda’s Hodgkin’s debut novel 22 Britannia Road is a searingly poignant love story about a small family trying to find a way back to love and normalcy after the hardships of war. Set in post-war Britain, the novel’s themes are compellingly contemporary in today’s war-torn world. The story is also one of maternal devotion.

As the novel opens, Silvana is headed to England to rejoin the husband she has not seen for six years. They were separated when he left to join the army as Germany invaded Poland during World War II. Silvana spent that time in hiding from the Nazis in the famed Arden forest with her young son, Aurek. After six years, she and the boy have barely survived. Aurek is a wild creature having been raised hiding in the forest like a small animal.
Her husband Janusz has fared better than Silvana, but he has also been scarred by the war and his harrowing escape to England. Happily but with trepidation, Janusz receives the wife he no longer knows and the child he had no time to know. Together, shaped by their horrific memories and in spite of them, they must rediscover love and forge a new life. Each of them must lay to rest secrets from their time apart and learn to live anew.
The story is told in series of flashbacks. Hodgkin’s style is subtle but intense. She knows how to get under your skin. I could not put the book down, and the
characters haunted me for days. This novel captures the horrors that become commonplace for “normal” people in times of war — and the struggle as they return to “normal” life as if nothing remarkable or horrific had happened.
Be sure not to miss this truly remarkable first novel.