Initial Thoughts OnThe Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

It is a glorious Sunday morning and I will be spending part of the day at brunch with family in honor of my aunt’s birthday. We’re going to Jane’s Tavern in the West Village, and while the service has always been a little slow there, the brunch is delicious! I have spent a better part of the week ruminating over what I want to order, I love it when the anticipation can be delicious like that.

Later on today I plan on finishing up  The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook. I’ve been reading it with my mom. It is the perfect book to read for a  book club discussion.

Set in 1946, it’s about an English colonel responsible for reorganizing a section of Germany after World War II. A house is requisitioned for him to live in, and his family is on the way to join him after an absence of almost two years. His son is a virtual stranger to him, and his wife is still heavily grieving the loss of their elder son. While it is standard among the military to evict German families from their home during occupation, the Colonel allows the family to stay and live with his family, since the house is so big. This of course leads to inevitable tensions and clashes as the families try to work out ways to co-exist.

Reading the novel so far has been a very rich experience. We have broken it up into chapters and have been discussing it as we go along. Brook excels in illuminating the complexities of war, and his characters and their feelings and viewpoints are so well considered that it is nearly impossible to take sides – they are all so clearly understood. We have discussed marital discord, the insane politics of war, and how death, absence and grief affect people in different ways – how the failure to bridge the gap when you have the opportunity only makes things worse, and sometimes leads to tragic events.

Transformation is also another solid theme as many of the characters are at a crossroads in their lives, and in their relationships. My mom has said of Brook, “He is out of sight with his themes and characterizations.” I can’t wait to finish up this evening.

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope your reading has been as rewarding as mine has been this week.

If you haven’t read it yet, check out my interview with Diane Hammond.

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