Julia, a young widow with two small children, is expelled from her Sudetenland home in post-WWII reprisals by the Czechs. Barely able to survive in refugee camps, Julia struggles to take care of her family. A letter arrives from her first love from twenty years earlier. He has found her through the Red Cross. But is he too late? Julia has just remarried. Will she uproot her life once again?
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Julia's Violinist by Anneli Purchase has given me a new perspective about the events both during and after World War II. Though the story is fiction,it is based on actual events that happened to many German people living in Czechoslovakia at the time the war ended. A young German mother, whose husband was killed in the war,suffers the displacement from her home in Czechoslovakia, which was part of a persecution perpetuated by Czechoslovakia unknown to me before I read this book. We then follow Julia through her entire life, including her immigration to Canada, her love for a man who was caught up in his own tragedies brought about by the war. The author aptly describes the realities, complexities, contradictions, and hardships that are often forced upon families as the result of war. The fact that the story draws on some of the experiences of the author's own mother gives it an authenticity that it wouldn't have had otherwise. I would highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction seeking a new slant on World War II and the Holocaust.
I had the good fortune to read Julia's Violinist before publication. One woman's struggle to survive and protect her children in the aftermath of WWII is a war story with a difference. In her novel, Purchase focuses on Julia's determination and her strength of will. Despite all that she endures, she is a survivor. It's Julia who holds her family together during the horror of reprisals and the deprivation of deportation and internment.
But Julia's violinist is above all a story of love--for children, parents, siblings and the three men in her life. You will cry for Julia, you will root for Julia, you will cheer for Julia, and above all you will come to love Julia.
This is not just one woman's story, but the story of many women, any one of whom it would be an honor and a privilege to know..
Julia's Violinist is a book about people. Not good people, not bad people, just people making their way through life surrounded by tragedy, upheaval, necessity, and different kinds of love. It's a story about how deep happiness and great sadness can be exactly the same emotion. Be prepared to grit your teeth as you read, to tear up, but also to be left with that mixed feeling of sweet sorrow.
We had just come back from a great meal at an Austrian restaurant where … a couple sat down across from us. [The man of the couple] and I made eye contact and the first thing that came into my mind was “KARL!” Somehow he looked just like the Karl in the book whom I really did NOT like ... but I liked the book and I liked her [the author’s] writing. Funny, isn't it, that a character will make such an impression.