Saturday, July 8

Season of Iron by Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Review by Pat Brown

Back in the mid 70's, as a teenager, I read William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. This was really my first introduction to the idea that groups of people could commit unbelievable atrocities on other people and get away with it. I was your typical teen, believing in fairness and justice and I wanted to believe that if something as horrible as this could go on, then the rest of the world would be outraged. When I realized the world wasn't, and in fact turned it's back on plight of the German Jew I was horrified.

But I have to confess I haven't gone out of my way to read stories which spotlight those days. I acquired Season of Iron because Slyvia herself handed it to me at Book Expo Canada last June.

I'm glad she did.

I'd have to describe this book as a quiet mystery. There's no flash and dazzle, no wild chases through city streets. There is a murder and a couple of attempted murders, all of which are solved by the end, though I'm convinced the 'real' story is the mystery of who these people are and how the two eras come together.

It opens in Toronto in 1979 and from that point on alternates between '79 Canada and 1930's Germany, chronicling the life of a Jewish family from the prosperity of middle class business owners to the horrors of the concentration camp they end up in. Who survives and who doesn't, and what it means in '79 is a wonderful journey of discovery and pure guesswork.

I actually saw some similarities between the way the German Nazis promulgated their hatred and the way some countries are doing the same thing today. It's a sad reminder that people don't really change and the lessons of history get lost in the ages.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It didn't hit me over the head with theatrics and high blown drama. Instead it is a well written novel, which introduces us to some pleasant, ordinary people who have the same kind of crisis in their life as all the rest of us do. When they get caught up in the horror of the day so are we. We grow to care about all these people, in the past and the 'modern' day. I recommend it to anyone who wants a good, solid read without the histrionics of many modern thrillers.

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