28 January 2014

Book Review: A Parachute in the Lime Tree

Title: A Parachute in the Lime Tree

Author: Annemarie Neary

Publisher: The History Press Ireland

Format: Paperback, 239 pages

Genre: Historical fiction

Source: Author

A Parachute in the Lime Tree is a poignant story set in neutral Ireland in 1941 during the precarious weeks following the Belfast blitz. The story alternates between four characters and the way their lives intertwine in the midst of turmoil during the ‘Emergency’ in Ireland. Everyone is on edge, wondering if Ireland will be invaded.

The reader is immediately drawn into the story with the opening scene, when Oskar decides to desert his Luftwaffe unit by jumping after they attacked Belfast.

Once the parachute jolted in, he was a puppet in the dark. He didn’t see the tree. It tossed him this way and that as he bumped down through its layers.

Oskar is an unhappy German conscript who is obsessed with memories of his sweetheart, Elsa, who was forced to leave Berlin two years ago, and now lives in Ireland. Oskar doesn’t want anything to do with the war. All he can think about is finding Elsa.

Kitty resents her mundane life with her widowed mother in Ireland so she is excited to see the parachute in the lime tree in their garden. When she discovers Oskar looking for food in the kitchen, she quickly decides to keep his presence a secret. Kitty is fascinated by this polite German who suddenly appeared in her life:

Elsa, a German Jewish exile, is now living in Dublin. Her host family notice her talent as a pianist and with their encouragement she is slowly starting to settle into her new life. However, she worries about her parents who she had to leave behind, and she wonders how Oskar is doing.

Charlie is a young medical student, and one afternoon he decides to go to a music festival where he notices Elsa playing the piano. He is instantly smitten.

The lives of these four characters - Oskar, Kitty, Elsa, and Charlie - become intertwined, as the war affects all of them in ways that will have far-reaching consequences. The viewpoint alternates between each character so the reader gradually learns their backstory, and the reader is able to understand their actions now.

A Parachute in the Lime Tree is an evocative story about enduring love and the impact of war. The characters seem very real and the Irish setting is vividly described so it's easy to become immersed in the story.

The ending stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment