••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Reviews
Review of Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
Page Count: 320 pp
Moving WW2 survival story
I have a terrible confession to make. I was only dimly aware of the WW2 occupation of Greece. It seems strange to me that this wasn’t part of my education. I was well aware of the military coups of the sixties, the Communist uprisings and informed by movies such as Z by Costa Gavros, but somehow I never looked back further. My error, mea culpa.
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels has been lying on my bookshelf for years and I never paid it any attention. My loss. For what lies between the covers is earth shattering – beautifully crafted – harrowing. A powerful story of the consequences of the Nazi occupation of Poland and Greece, the life of one Jacob Beer, who sees his entire family wiped out and only survives by burying himself alive until starved, he emerges like a ghost. Jacob, the seven-year-old boy is saved by Athos, an archaeologist who was working nearby and takes him home to his island. He remains hidden for years until the Germans are finally driven out of Greece. Their evolving relationship and trust is the core of the story and is highly affecting. Jacob can never forget Bella his sister the pianist, killed with the rest of his family and carries her with him in his heart and mind wherever he goes. Every village, every home, every memory of his people has been erased but Jacob lives and he remembers and becomes a poet.
The language is fluid, highly emotive, Anne Michaels is a poet after all. Jacob Beer was a real person – this would be the compelling memoir he might have written had he lived and it will haunt you for a very long while after reading it. A story of resilience and character.
*It was also made into a film in 2007
Fugitive Pieces: Directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
With Robbie Kay, Monika Schurmann, Nina Dobrev, Jordan Pettle.
The novel won the Guardian fiction Award and the Orange Prize 1997
© Sam North - Editor
author of A Cure for Sceptics