Julia by Otto de Kat

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Julia by Otto de Kat

Buy Julia by Otto de Kat at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Chris, a young man currently living and working in pre-war Germany becomes smitten by a local girl, Julia. He has plenty of time in which to contemplate a rash decision of his and of its heartbreaking consequences.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 191 Date: October 2011
Publisher: MacLehose Press
ISBN: 978-0-85705-055-7

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The book opens with Chris as an elderly man who is nearing the end of his life. Turn a page or two and he is, in fact, dead. Suicide apparently. It's all very sad. He lived alone and a paid employee, his young driver, found him in his study. Suicide for the posh his driver thinks looking at the corpse. But we have to travel back down the decades to find out why.

We zoom back to 1938 and to Lubeck, a town like an oyster. Hard to prise open, but once inside she enfolded you, elderly as she was, and not quite herself of late. This poetic description is an example of De Kat's style which is also elegant and stylish.

We get inside Chris's head as he first encounters the lovely Julia. He's so besotted he can hardly think. Never had he encountered a woman like her. But while he's trying desperately to make a date with her, he's conscious of his life back home in Holland, where he has a girlfriend.

They say that opposites attract and that appears to be the case here. Chris comes over as a rather serious young man while the wonderful Julia is free-spirited. She sounds too good to be true at times. Chris feel so much at home in Germany that he really doesn't want to go back to his rather dull life in Holland. His father is in manufacturing and it's assumed that the son, Chris will take over as MD when the time is right. As the father's health is deteriorating that time is fast approaching. Chris is starting to panic. What should he do? He knows full well it will tear him apart if he leaves Julia behind.

As their relationship develops so does the intrigue, secrets and yes, danger. On the cusp of war, most people are edgy, nervous. Politics, communism make their brief appearances. In short, Chris and Julia are worried sick. As the local situation in Germany becomes ever more dangerous - for some more than others - Chris decides to leave.

As as the much older Chris, in the last few hours of his life, tells the reader what happened in the intervening years, there's an overall sense of loss and sadness. Many sentences have a poignancy about them and the reader is left sometimes, to almost want to fill in the gaps. Yes, war does strange things to certain individuals. The pieces of the jig-saw do fit eventually but before all that, we have to endure Chris's heartbreaking story. Tight, taut and tense in places. A beautifully told tale. Highly recommended.

We also have a review of The Longest Night by Otto de Kat and Laura Watkinson (translator).

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck.

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Buy Julia by Otto de Kat at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Julia by Otto de Kat at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Julia by Otto de Kat at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Julia by Otto de Kat at Amazon.com.


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