Jill's Reviews > Skeletons at the Feast

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
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Apr 02, 09

Read in March, 2009

Wow, best Bohjalian I have read. In my previous review of his work I said he has a tendency to go on for too long...his books can drag a little at times. Not this book!

The story is set in the waning days of WWII in Germany. The Russians are pouring in from the east; raping, pillaging, and seeking revenge for the many atrocities the German soldiers had been inflicting upon Russian citizens earlier in the war. German citizens are packing whatever they can and fleeing to the west, hoping to surrender to the more 'civilized' American and British troops. Meanwhile the German army is still grabbing any male (regardless of age or disability) to try to continue their hopeless campaign. Nazi prison guards are death-marching their prisoners and trying to erase as much proof of their evil deeds as possible.

The book mainly tells the story of Anna, an 18 year-old-girl and her family (which will primarily consist of her, her mother, her younger brother, and a Scottish POW who had been working on their farm and has become Anna's secret lover) who are traveling west to escape the Russians. They, of course, face different and difficult situations every day.

Another part of the book tells the story of Manfred, a young Jewish man who escaped from the train that was taking him to a concentration camp and has spent the war disguised as German soldiers he has killed.

The third part of the book tells the story of Cecile, a French Jewish woman trying to survive a death march.

I found this entire book fascinating. You care about all the characters and can't wait to find out what will happen to them. The story was not predictable in any way - I had no idea what was going to happen next!

I heartily recommend the book with the only warning that this is a serious book about serious matters. There are a couple of violent and disturbing scenes.
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