This story, based on the life of the author's mother, is one that will stay with you.
The Blue Suitcase
Amazon.com The Blue Suitcase
My review -
This is the story of Antonia, a girl growing to womanhood in Silesia, then part of Germany, in the 1930s and 40s. We see the rise to power of Hitler and his insidious beliefs from the viewpoint of her family members. It divides the family as some feel the Nazi movement is bringing Germany back her pride and self-belief while others start to notice what is happening to the weak, the non-Aryan, the mentally ill. Some refuse to believe what is happening. Some believe it and are mortally afraid to speak up, knowing what happens to those who go against the regime. Through the diary of Antonia, and family letters, we watch a gradual slide become all out terror and follow the lives of people who are forced to live in brutal conditions to survive as they try to stave off the Russian attacks.
The writing is spare and factual and all the more hard-hitting for that. Marianne Wheelaghan based this story on the life of her own mother and the narrative, initially child-like as Antonia starts her story aged 12, rings very true. It ends as she is in her late 20s and of course, much more thoughtful and bearing a great weight of experience and suffering. I found that reading the young girl's viewpoint with the hindsight of one who knew the outcome of the war made for a gripping read. Some books stay with you. This one certainly will.