Skip to main content

Book 27 - Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian


I have been a fan of Chris Bohjalian's since I read Midwives back in the late 90's and I became even more of a fan when I learned that he, like me at certain points in my life, was living in a very rural community in Vermont. Skeletons at the Feast is his first foray into historical fiction, I think.

Bohjalian writes about the period right before the end of the Second World War. The Emmerich family are leaving their manor house as the Russians approach. The family is comprised of Anna, her mother, nicknamed Mutti, her father, Rolf, her twin brother Helmut, her younger brother Theo and the Scottish POW, Callum Finella, who has been working on the farm. Anna also has an older brother named Werner, that is referred to a lot, but whom we don't see because he is off at the front, fighting for the Third Reich. Rolf and Helmut eventually leave the family and the rest move on in an effort to escape the Russians. They eventually cross paths with a Jewish man named Uri Singer, who poses as either a Russian or a German, in order to escape persecution at the hands of either group.

I loved this book. I can't tell you how much I loved this book, because it is beyond words. I loved and appreciated it because it told a perspective that is somewhat different from what a lot of people think about when they think about WWII - the bombing of Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima and Nagasaki/the atrocities committed against thee Jews and gypsies by the Nazis. However, this novel reminded us that oftentimes average Germans were also targeted and victimized, although not as severely or as badly as other groups (they did have the benefit of being "Aryan" German). The characters in this novel lived in a very rural area and heard rumors of the awful things that their beloved Fuhrer committed against Jews and others but they never personally saw or participated in those awful events. They didn't even witness the mass evacuations of the concentration camps. In fact, when Mutti finds out pretty certainly what her beloved leader has been doing, she is so mortified and shamed, that I thought that she would kill herself.

This book was wonderful, easy to read and quite interesting.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:


BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

You may recognize the author's name - Krakauer is perhaps most famous for the book Into the Wild about a young man that goes to Alaska (and which was made into a movie).  I enjoyed that book and when I heard on a podcast that I listen to that Krakuer had written a new book, I decided to get it and read it.  In this book, which is non fiction - he focuses on the University of Montana, the local police department and at the local prosecutor's office and analyzes their job performances through the eyes of five young women who were sexually assaulted. During this same period, the Department of Justice investigated how those same parties handled 80 rape cases and that investigation yielded dismaying results. In one instance, a detective re assured a male suspect during an interrogation that she didn't believe he committed a rape (despite evidence to the contrary) because they got a lot of false accusations. Similarly, the Chief of Police (!!!) sent an article to a victim citin…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…