This book has been on my TBR list for years. I have a notebook which is now almost over with books I should read - based on reviews and recommendations which I gather from the blogs. Sometimes you go into a book with a lot of anticipation (happens for me with Joanna Trollope, Susanna Kearsley, Diana Gabaldon, Elizabeth George the list is endless) and those never disappoint. Then you pick up a book with a strange title "a novel in a viola????" okay this sounds strange to begin with and then you start and voila you are immersed in an English countryside just prior to the beginning of WWII and then you no longer are in your own home.
The book took me to Tyneford, it immersed me in the house itself. Solomons has a way with words - in this hot, humid and miserable weather we are having in Colombo I can almost taste the salt water rain off the coast in Tyneford, the tang that comes up from freshly ploughed soil, the scent of bluebells (though I don't know what that is never having seen one in real life), and can imagine what moss and lichen on the walls feel like.
The story of Elise and Margo, Anna and Julian - Jews in Austria who face their fears head on and of courageous parents who force Elise a girl waited on by cooks and maids to herself become a maid in an English household, and their newly married daughter Margot to emmigrate as quickly as possible to America, become caught in the conflict themselves. To the utter sadness and fast losing hope of both daughters who realize very soon that seeing their parents is becoming more and more of an improbability as time goes on.
How Elise makes a life for herself is a beautiful love story, despite the overtones of sadness throughout the story. Margot's story is a side line almost until the end when the two sisters are reunited.
I liked how Solomons incorporated the war in the everyday lives of the average Englishman and how quickly the English people adapted to this strange new way of living. That the war broke down barriers and changed the social fabric of Europe was unmistakable. Reminiscent of Downton Abbey the "upstairs downstairs" of everyday life at Tyneford House was so detailed and descriptive - I loved it!
This was an ideal read for me to get out of the rut I had drifted into with no reading done at all over weeks of non stop work! Halfway through an Elizabeth George who is another beautiful writer!