It is not so often you read a novel and then go back and read the prologue again just to be sure. On the face of it this is a novel that simply follows events after a warship explodes in Greenock in 1940. Which is the basic tenet of the story .
There is however so much more . The book tells an important story about Poland and its peoples after they were displaced in 1939 when Poland was annexed. That word hides the true meaning that Germany and Russia invaded and divided the country up as one might a pizza. There are characters that appear and reappear in a manner suggesting the author understands and maybe knows some of them. The characters do grow in the story and whereas some are likeable some are truly revolting even putting a wartime veneer on things. One aspect I had never learned or maybe missed was that some folks profited from war , if they were lucky, and others enjoyed the ambience that wartime brought. Some grew as people and others simply followed like sheep.
This book needs to be read. If you only read one book about what living in the Second World War was really like this is it. Some grizzly unpleasant bits but a surprising number of positives mostly related to people and peoples having to work together. There is a lot about loyalty in this book and pragmatism too. The book takes us through lives changing and also lives of those growing up in wartime and their aspirations.
I have loved reading this book. My little knowledge of Scotland in wartime has exponentially increased.
Some questions remain however . Some of the book is fact , some fiction and in the words of the author, some borrowed. But my question is did Major Mike, as we can call him, really exist? I have this little suspicion that he did.
This book is worth 300 pages of your time . Enjoy