This book follows Emilia, Johana and Florian on their journey through a war-torn Prussia with their travelling party to obtain a safe voyage elsewhere. Then when they reach the Port we meet Alfred a German soldier on the Wilhelm Gustloff and they all end up in the middle of the disaster of the sinking of the ship which saw more people die than did on the Titanic.
Although the book was fast-paced and enthralling in EBook format (from NetGalley) that I stated reading it in I found it difficult to feel fully immersed in the story which is why I was glad when I found it in audio book format on overdrive. As soon as I started listening to the audio book version of the book thanks to Narrators I was immediately completely immersed in the story and the characters as individuals as well as a travelling group
I am really glad that I have finally read this book because I had never heard of this disaster which caused the deaths of 9,000 men,women and children before as it isn’t something that appears in history much. While reading the book it was really hard not to compare it to the scenes of the Titanic sinking that are portrayed in Titanic, the panic, the women and children drowning, the fear of lifeboat overcrowding. I found it quite unnerving how much the initial part of the book, the journey to the port is indicative to what is occurring in the world at the moment with the refugee crisis – people leaving their homes with their belongings on their backs/in carts and with very little hope of surviving the dangers they face during their journey.
All the characters were well developed and multi faceted which meant that they were easy to connect with, and told the story of the boat sinking and the war in a very considered and heart reaching way. I particularly liked the relationship between the shoe maker and the wandering boy, and Emilia, and Florian. Emilia was my favourite character because although she was still really innocent with all she’d seen she was also very strong, kind and loyal with a steady determination, which means she is a character who I will think about often. However I didn’t like Erik one of the German soldiers as he didn’t question the beliefs of the Reich in any way what so ever as he believed that by being that faithful to the cause he would get some big reward in the end.
The Narrators narrated the characters really well and gave real feeling to the atmosphere that they were experiencing which meant that I as the reader was able to connect with them and their experiences. I enjoyed all the narrators narrations so much in this book that I will undoubtedly look out for any other books they have narrated on their own or together (all of them or some of them).
The detail that Rueta gave about the events in the book especially the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff were so vivid and well developed that it was obvious that she really had researched it well. It is because of this that I intend to make it my aim to read all the books that shes already written as well as any that she writes in the future as I am sure I will enjoy them as much as I did this one, however I think I will almost definitely read them in audio book format first because of the in depth and detailed nature of her writing.
Now I have listened to this book in audio book format so have been able absorb all the intricate individual character stores which combine to make the whole story I will without doubt go back to the eBook format again. On doing so I am sure I will be able to immerse my self in the book in that format as much as I did in the audio book format as I have already go the gist of the characters and their stories.
This is a book that I would both recommend to anyone or buy for anyone I know who enjoys a good historical fiction and wants to learning about a disaster that they probably know nothing about.