Friday, 22 March 2013

The Last Telegram

Author: Liz Trenow
Type: e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)
Publisher: SourceBooks Landmark
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
First Line: "

Note: My sincere thanks to SourceBooks and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Publisher's Description: The war changed everything for Lily Verner.

As the Nazis storm Europe, Lily becomes an apprentice at her family’s silk weaving factory. When they start to weave parachute silk there is no margin for error: one tiny fault could result in certain death for Allied soldiers.

The war also brings Stefan to Lily: a German Jewish refugee who works on the looms. As their love grows, there are suspicions someone is tampering with the silk.

Can their love survive the hardships of war? And will the Verner’s silk stand the ultimate test?

My Thoughts: I've mentioned before that I love reading historical fiction books that occur during WWII.  It was such a tumultuous, emotional and savage time that was also accented by acts of extreme humanity and our innate desire to survive at all costs.  While certain books give a very raw, and at times hard to read, view of what occurred when the Nazis tried to take over (like 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas', 'In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer' or "Stones From The River") others tend to use WWII as more of a back drop for their story.

'The Last Telegram', like 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society", used WWII as a backdrop but didn't have that raw, emotional feel that I usually associate with a story set during WWII (and during The Blitz, no less). I think that there isn't as much drama about the war in The Last Telegram because it is written in the first person.  The reader only has Lily's account of what she saw of the war.  Since she didn't personally witness much of the war the book felt very detached from the devastation (except in one instance).  It doesn't make the war less devastating but there isn't that imminent danger, edge of your seat quality to the book.  This is not necessarily a negative but just a different kind of WWII read for me.

Something that was unique about this book were the factoids  about silk production at the beginning of each chapter as well as quite a lot of detail within the chapters.  While it was very informative, at times, I feel that the information given within the chapter negatively affected the pace of the book.  A little bogged down in the details of silk production.

I always enjoy learning something when I read a book, especially a historical read, and this book taught me a few things.  First, I was unaware of the Kinder Transport of Jewish children and found Stephan's story very interesting and heart-felt as he was forced to leave his family behind as he made his way to the safety of England.  I also liked seeing how the role of women changed due to their involvement in the war. 

This admittedly wasn't, for me anyway, an 'edge of your seat' type WWII read.  It has a very quiet demeanor, a slower pace and focuses more on the romance aspect rather than the combat.  There are interesting characters and a few twists thrown in to make it an interesting read.  One of the characters that stuck out for me was Lily, especially as she recounted her life and regrets, during WWII to her granddaughter.

Note: Fans of 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society' will enjoy this read.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


Beth said...

Good review, and I liked your comments on the use of first person. A thought-provoking analysis!

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks, Beth. I enjoyed it but think that using the first person narrative kind of hindered the pace and intensity of the book.

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