There is something educational, captivating and very endearing in listening to an elderly person reflect on the events and experiences they witnessed during their life, especially through eventful times. When the writing is as good as Juliet Conlin’s, you get a front-row view into the life of Alfred Warner. It is a very sentimental and poignant story of reflection, of loss, love, and a family secret and gift Alfred must pass on.
Alfred Warner arrives back in Berlin, after living in the UK since the end of the Second World War. His purpose is to meet his estranged grand-daughter Brynja before he dies. These are the last 6 days of his life and he tells his story to Julie (a stranger) as she befriends and helps him locate his grand-daughter. This is not a spoiler as we pretty much know the finale from the outset. However, what the book presents is the enthralling, and absorbing story of Alfred’s life and how it intertwined and touched on the rise of the Nazi party, the persecution of the Jews, the time spent as a soldier and a PoW in Scotland.
The events, the family losses, and the torments in his life are described in wonderful detail with periods of deep sadness but times of uplifting happiness, and always with the help of something extremely special. Or not! The structure and flows of the story are very interesting from 3 different perspectives: Alfred’s life story is told chronologically which is really well matched with Julie’s perspective as she steps through the 6 days, and finally Brynja’s narrative as she steps back in reverse chronology from 2005.
A great book that is definitely worth a read. Many thanks to Black & White Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.