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Salt to the Sea

A haunting page-turner of a war-torn Germany, this novel recounts how four people were affected by tragedy, lies and horror, thrown together by the promise of freedom, only to be trapped in one of the biggest maritime disasters in history.
The Story:
Guilt. Fate. Shame. Fear. Each of these hunts a particular character within the novel, and through it, we discover why.
Guilt hunts Joanna, a Lithuanian refugee escaping from both the wrath of the (crumbling) Nazi regime and the approaching Russian army. A trained nurse, she leads her group, which includes a giant of a woman (Eva) as well as Ingrid (a blind woman) and a shoemaker towards the border and, she hopes, to safety. Her life is separate from her group, as she hides a secret: she is a murderer.
Fate hunts Florian. Originally working as an art restorer, Florian is on a mission of revenge. He has lost his family. He has lost his home. Now, it is Hitler s turn. Florian was betrayed by his boss, a man whom he thought cared about saving art, not stealing it. So, armed with a gun, a map and a key, Florian will deliver a most precious item into the hands of Hitler s enemies. At least, that is the hope. Unfortunately, he is injured and his life takes another turn…
Shame hunts Emilia. A Polish woman, she is rescued by German knight when a Russian solder attacks her, and he becomes her light in a dark and brutal time, staying with her even though he is desperate to get away. Confused, tired, and aching, Emilia wants to get to August her beloved, but the more time goes by, the less she can recall, and more of the real horror seeps back into her mind…
Fear hunts Alfred. A young man who thinks it is the biggest honour to fight for the Fuhrer, Alfred has a secret that must be kept at all costs. Therefore, he writes letters in his head to his beloved, refrains from speaking with his mother and does everything he his told. He is the lowest ranking soldier; he is scared of dying, but he is far more afraid that someone should discover his secret. So when an important officer arrives on his ship, he seizes the opportunity to put himself forward, away from all the shadows of his past…
This novel is an amazing and thought-provoking read, inspired (in part) by real events and accounts of the Wilhelm Gustloff. The characters are phenomenal and the story itself is gripping, if at times horrifying as the characters interact and their histories are made known. Some events described are a bit graphic for younger readers, but the historical atmosphere within the novel is so rich that it should definitely be part of anyone s book collection. It is a book that captures the mind.

Posted on: 28th April 2017 at 12:01 pm

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