The One I Was by Eliza Graham
|The One I Was by Eliza Graham|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Great fiction: you read once for pleasure and then again for the pleasure of seeing how it was done. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 298||Date: April 2014|
|Publisher: Moreton Street Books|
|External links: Author's website|
In 1939, before the outbreak of the Second World War, a boy arrived at Harwich docks. He was a Kindertransport refugee fleeing the anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. Benjamin Goldman would change his name to Benny Gault when his idea that the war wouldn't happen and he could go home to Germany came to nothing, but in the meantime he was adopted by Lord and Lady Dorner. Six boys were to live at their country home - Fairfleet - and be educated by a private tutor. On the face of it Benny's luck could not have worked out better, but he was hiding a secret.
More than fifty years later Benny is dying at Fairfleet, which he now owns and the secret still weighs on his mind. Cancer is catching up with him and a professional nurse is called in to help him through his final weeks. Rosamond had every reason not to accept the work as she has a secret of her own. Her mother had died in a fire at Fairfleet many years before and she struggled with the guilty knowledge of having been involved, if not responsible for the death.
Benny's final days are not going to be easy. The weather has closed in and the housekeeper is worried that the doctor will not be able to get through. Benny and Rosamond need to unravel their secrets and the ties which bind them together. And there's someone else who feels that Fairfleet owes them a debt.
It's quite a while since I read a book with quite so much meat on its bones. There's excellent attention to detail: Lady Dorner was Air Transport Auxiliary in the war - moving aircraft to where they were needed for the war effort. There's a real feel for the pressures of the work - and the joy of flying a Spitfire. Similarly with the Kindertransport, the atmosphere in Nazi Germany comes off the page, but these are details and it's the people who matter. There are characters you won't warm too, but you'll feel that you know every one of them - even the relatively minor ones - and you'll find yourself thinking about them after you've finished the book.
The most important aspect of the book for me was the subtle exploration of redemption and the question of whether or not we can reinvent ourselves. The plot has some surprising twists and I found myself thinking more widely than just this particular story and I decided that sometimes the hardest thing is to forgive yourself. I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
On the morning that I was asked if I would like a copy of this book to review I'd woken up thinking about Eliza Graham's first book and that was published in 2007. That should tell you how good she is.
You can read more book reviews or buy The One I Was by Eliza Graham at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The One I Was by Eliza Graham at Amazon.com.
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