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Restitution
Date of Review: 
Feb.01.2009
Published Work: 
Reviewer: 
Sara Wilson
Source: 
The Historical Novels Review

In January 2006 Alix is tracked down by her birth son, Michael. He asks the question she has long dreaded: ‘who is my father?’ The answer is simple and yet so complicated—he was her most feared, most adored enemy. Rewind the clock to 1945, and Alix’s story begins with her flight from the Red onslaught which is brought harrowingly to life. Death and fear stalk the pages and her meeting with old sweetheart, Gregor, is fraught with mistrust and passion.

Rewind to 1939, and part-Jewish Gregor has his own story to tell—again confused by betrayal and fear—as he and his mother flee from Nazi aggression and try to find a place to call home.

Interspersed between Alix and Gregor’s stories are those of their parents and friends. But for Alix and Gregor, the truth behind their encounter in 1945—and the puzzles it created—will only be understood after the passage of sixty years.

At the heart of Restitution is the belief that corruption, hatred and fear cannot destroy love and hope, and that acts of kindness can take place even in the most appalling conditions. It is unusual to read a book written from the German point of view, showing many everyday Germans in a favourable light. It also focuses on the harsh treatment of German women by the Soviet army, a subject that many readers may not be familiar with. For all these reasons it is well worth reading, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. -- Sara Wilson