THE AFTERMATH, by Rhidian Brook, invades the occupation of postwar Germany after the second world war.
When Colonel Lewis Morgan finds himself requisitioning a spacious home on the River Elbe in Hamburg, Germany, he decides to step outside the box and invite the German family who live in the manor house to stay on. This is unheard of. And consequences will prevail.
The British now occupy Germany. Their job is to figure out which of the surviving Germans were in cahoots with the Nazis; not an easy feat. They must be categorized into groups of color: black, white, or grey. Each color designating how involved they were. Extensive questionnaires were filled out by all Germans. They were blunt and to the point. Colonel Morgan is in charge of overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city.
The ruins of Hamburg are shown in shocking and harsh scenes. Hamburg was not only bombed during the war, but after as well. The devastation was harrowing. Many graphic scenes occur showing not only the destroyed city, but also the destroyed citizens, many of them innocent, and many of them children. You would think things would be better for these people once the British were in charge; more food to eat, shelter. Not so. Less in most cases.
Colonel Morgan brings his wife and young son to live with him in Germany. Rachael and Edmond come, hesitantly. You see, Rachael has lost her oldest son to the war already. She is not fond of anything German. Since she was an actual witness to her son’s death, it has hit her the hardest. And to find herself living with a German family, well, it is quite disturbing to say the least.
As Edmond seems to settle into his new living arrangement fairly quickly, Rachael finds herself bristling each time she encounters Herr Lubert, the owner of the manor. And his fifteen-year-old daughter Freda has turned into a misfit. She resents the British to death. Of course you can’t blame her as her own mother was killed in the war. And now the enemy is living in her home.
Both families have lost a key member to the horrors of the second world war. Slowly, Rachael and Herr Lubert come to grips with their grief. Everything is put aside and they become more than friends.
The days after the war were full of woe. Orphans roamed the countryside, shell-shocked and without direction. A feral group of them found an abandoned property near the Lubert’s. Moved in and began working the countryside searching for cigarettes and anything they could steal to swap for food. Edmond becomes involved with this group, inadvertently. You can almost smell the odor of trouble as he hooks up with the ferals. Freda is not far behind.
This is a novel that has begged to be told. Rhidian Brook’s grandfather Walter Brook requisitioned a house in Hamburg for his family and did something unique in allowing the owners to remain in their property, thus leading to a German and British family sharing a house for five years. It was the inspiration for this amazing novel.
My galley arrived compliments of Knopf publishing company. Thank you so much.