22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
Published by: Penguin
Published on: April 28, 2011
Page Count: 336
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com
Audiobook Published by: Penguin Audiobooks
Narrator: Robin Sachs
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 19 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Janusz and Silvana are a young married couple when Janusz goes off to fight as WWII breaks out in Poland. Silvana was left behind to care for their infant son, Aurek. To escape both the Germans and the Russians, she learns how to survive in the wilderness with her son. When the two are rescued from a refuge camp and brought to Ipswich to be reunited with Janusz after the war, both husband and wife are hopeful of once again being happy, but they each have secrets that make it difficult to easily piece their family back together.
This novel alternates between Janusz and Silvana together in post-war England and the past in Poland for each character separately. As they try to build a new life and recapture their relationship, the reader is introduced slowly to the events and secrets that shaped them while they were apart. This structure worked well for me. It built tension and peaked my curiosity. I did find Silvana to be more difficult to wrap myself around, so the sections focusing Janusz were essential. It was because of him that I was able to care about Silvana and Aurek. They were broken characters, but something solid came in between me and them that prevented compassion from taking over. Were it not for Janusz, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the book.
It was a pleasure to experience this novel through Robin Sachs’ narration. He has such a comforting voice, yet it lends itself well to mystery and human pain. I may never be able to spell Janusz without assistance, but I can still hear Sachs say his name in my memory. After now listening to his narration of 22 Britannia Road and The Last Werewolf, I truly appreciate how versatile Robin Sachs is. If you’ve yet to listen to one of his audiobooks, I strongly suggest it. His is a voice you’ll not soon forget.
22 Britannia Road is a novel about the impact of secrets on lovers and families. It is also a story about the strength of the human spirit during war and its aftermath. While I didn’t love Amanda Hodgkinson’s debut novel, I certainly enjoyed it. I hope to read excellent things from her in the future.