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Thursday 2 January 2020

Review: Anna At War

Daniel’s 90 year old grandmother Anna survived WW2 but never spoke about it to him. When she is informed that MI5 are preparing to release her war files, it coincides with Daniel’s history lessons at school. Gran knows it’s time to share her childhood with him.

Anna’s life is happy in the modern, comfortable home with her parents. Hitler orders the destruction of all Jewish businesses. On Kistallnacht, nothing is left standing. Anna, with limited knowledge of English, is sent away to the safety of the English countryside and a foster family.

Rose, Bert and their children Frank and Molly, embrace Anna as their own and she does her best to fit in. Anna finds adapting to farm life and a dunny in the yard has its challenges.

Within two weeks, Anna learns three important things: the freedom gained by females with wearing trousers; that bath time is once a week with water warmed on the kitchen stove, and that the same water is used by everyone in turn.

Anna is determined to find work close by for her parents so they can join her. She finds a position for them at the Manor House and just as her parents prepare to set out, Germany invades Poland and Britain declares war on Germany.

Classed as enemy nationals, her parents’ papers are cancelled. Being a German Jew, she is considered a suspect spy at school. Anna is traumatised by these accusations, for they come with the risk of being sent to an internment camp.

Life takes a dramatic turn when the children find a wounded soldier hiding in their barn loft. Can Anna undertake the role secretly allocated to her by the Commander? She is intelligent and courageous. She has seen what Hitler’s minions are capable of. If her actions are misconstrued, her life will be forfeited.

This thrilling war adventure full of secrets, espionage and betrayal will keep the pages turning. Helen Peters, author of Evie’s Ghost and many others, has created a tension-filled, visual narrative, using Anna’s voice. A powerful portrayal of those traumatic years and the courage needed to survive is established early in the book, building momentum as the story progresses.

While revealing prejudices and fears that turn to spite and revenge, Peters unerring, displays the decline of social structures, and how poverty and lack changes people when their life as they know it, is brought to a halt.

Title: Anna at War  
Author: Helen Peters  
Publisher: Allen & Unwin , $14.99  
Publication Date: Allen & Unwin  
Format: Paperback  
ISBN: 9781788004718  
For ages:12+  
Type: Historical Fiction