Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In This Hospitable Land

In This Hospitable LandIn This Hospitable Land
Author Lynmar Brock, Jr.

When the Germans invade Belgium in 1940, chemistry professor André Severin fears the worst. His colleagues believe their social and political positions will protect them during the occupation, but André knows better. He has watched Hitler’s rise to power and knows the Nazis will do anything to destroy their enemies. For the Severins are Jews, non-practicing, yes, but that won’t matter to the Germans—or to the Belgians desperate to protect themselves by informing on their neighbors. And so André and his brother Alin take their parents, wives, and children and flee south. But when France falls to the Nazis, the refugees are caught in a rural farming community where their only hope for survival is to blend in with the locals. Fortunately, the Severins have come to Huguenot country, settled by victims of religious persecution who risk their own lives to protect the Jewish refugees and defy the pro-Nazi government. And as the displaced family grows to love their new neighbors, André and Alin join forces with the French Resistance to help protect them. Based on one family’s harrowing true story of survival, In This Hospitable Land is an inspirational novel about courage and the search for home in the midst of chaos.

Review: Lynmar Brock, Jr. creates an intimate portrait of a family's history during WWII. In This Hospitable Land details the hardships experienced by the Severin family. The expansive time they suffered is astounding and their determination to survive, memorable. Historians and those readers with a particular interested in WWII (1940's) will find this a good read. However, the casual historical reading audience might discover the length grueling, daily life repetitive and despite the events, lacking in anticipation. I compare the experience to thumbing through someone else's family photo album or watching home movies. The past is interesting and you get to know the characters, but I felt kept at an arms length and was unable to fully invest. It seemed as if the author was still protecting the privacy of the family and by doing so, I became merely an observer during the journey. For example, when a terrible violation happens to the young girls at school, the matter is given a few sentences and the reaction of parents even less. It was greatly 'breezed' over and took me a bit by surprise. It is an unpleasant topic to dwell on and most families would wish not to discuss. I found myself wondering why more type space was given to describing the slaughter of an animal than to the trauma of these little girls? Perhaps by attempting to be sensitive to private matters, the author was insensitive to revealing a true horror that might have provided a deeper intimacy.
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* ARC provided by Amazon Vine courtesy of Amazon Encore 

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