Victoria’s War

Dear Reader,

Hope you had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend and were able to spend lots of time reading 🙂

Today I am writing to you about a truly incredible story, the characters of which will stay with me forever.

Firstly, thank you to Net Galley, Listen Up Audiobooks and Catherine A. Hamilton for providing me with an Audiobook of this powerful story in exchange for my honest review.

Victoria’s War by Catherine A. Hamilton
Read by Emily Behr

Historical Fiction

POLAND, 1939: Nineteen-year-old Victoria Darski is eager to move away to college: her bags are packed and her train ticket is in hand. But instead of boarding a train to the University of Warsaw, she finds her world turned upside down when World War II breaks out.

Victoria’s father is sent to a raging battlefront, and the Darski women face the cruelty of the invaders alone. After the unthinkable happens, Victoria is ordered to work in a Nazi sewing factory. When she decides to go to a resistance meeting with her best friend, Sylvia, they are captured by human traffickers targeting Polish teenagers. Sylvia is singled out and sent to work in the brothels, and Victoria is transported in a cattle car to Berlin, where she is auctioned off as a slave.

GERMANY, 1941: Twenty-year-old Etta Tod is at Mercy Hospital, where she’s about to undergo involuntary sterilization because of the Fuhrer’s mandate to eliminate hereditary deafness. Etta, an artist, silently critiques the propaganda poster on the waiting room wall while her mother tries to convince her she should be glad to get rid of her monthlies. Etta is the daughter of the German shopkeepers who buy Victoria at auction in Berlin.

The stories of Victoria and Etta intertwine in the bakery’s attic where Victoria is held—the same place where Etta has hidden her anti-Nazi paintings. The two women form a quick and enduring bond. But when they’re caught stealing bread from the bakery and smuggling it to a nearby work camp, everything changes.

***

Hamilton gives voice to the millions of Polish slave labourers of the Third Reich with such humanity and truth I was blown away. Victoria Darski is a powerful protagonist who highlights the horrors of her and her friends experiences through the lense of her own vulnerabilities, strengths and ultimately incredible courage.

The descriptions of events in this book do not shy-away from the horrific truths of human trafficking and slave labour experiences; so much so that I feel a warning to readers is due. But it is this presentation of the truth that makes Victoria’s War such an important read – one that I want to press into the hands of everybody I meet. So many wartime experiences are still as yet relatively unknown, but Victoria’s War shines a light into another dark corner. This, coupled with Hamilton’s incredible use of language, plot development and three-dimensional characters, meant I could not stop listening – and I confess also to sobbing my heart out, something I think it is impossible not to.

The stories of Victoria, Sylvia, Etta and all those that they meet, will stay with you forever.

Emily Behr was a fantastic reader – perfectly capturing the atmosphere, accents and tension of the unfolding narrative. It was also great to hear all the names of both people and places pronounced correctly. This was especially so with the regular use of both Polish and German – I found the audio really helped me to keep up with the story.

Victoria’s War is available in paperback, published by Plain View Press, and from today as an audiobook, recorded by Listen Up Audiobooks.

I cannot recommend enough. Such an important book.

Meg xx

3 thoughts on “Victoria’s War

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s