The first few chapters of Correa’s historical faction didn’t excite me and I still not entirely sure why. I found myself struggling with the narrative, with the flow, with the general style. It was odd. Correa’s book presents such a vital insight into a period of world and Jewish history which intrigues me. I have never read a book about this period that I didn’t find fascinating on some level; indeed, except for ‘The Kindly Ones’, I have never left a book about this era unread. (And I have hopes that I will eventually finish ‘The Kindly Ones’!)
I loved the way Correa had set up his narrative, the tale of two girls separated by years and by continents but unwittingly connected by history and family. I loved the juxtaposition between their contexts and how their voices twisted through this novel at some points filled with longing and at others with pain. On so many levels I could see the value of Correa’s work and appreciate it, and so it was that I persisted with reading it and how truly glad I am that I did.
Armando Lucas Correa has told a magnificent and bold story which provides an infinitely valuable insight into the history of refugees both in the context of the Holocaust and in modern terms. Correa’s tale of Leo and Hannah is one of the most beautiful, unrealised love stories that I think I have ever read. In its simplicity, it captured all the magic and essence and possibility of young love and the tragedy of its outcome speaks to the painful reality of many refugee stories.
There is much to herald about this book. But, instead of ruining the pleasure of your reading, I will point out only that what has stayed with me long after I finished the final page is the list of the people that Correa includes at the novel’s end. People who boarded the St. Louis with hopes for survival and a better life, few of whom survived. The simple reality of this story makes it memorable far beyond the voices of its characters.
Courtesy of Shalom:Sydney Jewish Writers Festival and Simon & Schuster, you can enjoy hearing Correa In Conversation at Double Bay Library on February 28th at 10.30am. Tickets are essential so book now before the event is sold out.