- this edition published by Penguin.com 2013
- ISBN 978-0-670-92291-8
- 325 pages
- source: my local library
In the bitter winter of 1946, Rachael Morgan arrives with her only remaining son Edmund in the ruins of Hamburg. Here she is reunited with her husband Lewis, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an extraordinary decision: they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.
For followers of my blog: although this novel includes crimes, it is not really crime fiction.
It is part of a genre which explores "real" historical situations, particularly related to issues connected to World War 2.
The setting is Hamburg in 1946, ironically destroyed by British fire bombing late in the war with total devastation of the city and the loss of thousands of "innocent" citizens. The area is now occupied by the British, Russian and the Americans and their mission is to "reform" the German citizens, to change their mind set, and make sure they see Hitler for what he was.
Lewis Morgan is the British officer in charge of this rehabilitation but he is among the humanitarian few who think that feeding the population, housing them, taking them off the streets, and re-establishing schools and work is much more important than working out those who still believe Hitler was right.
The British officers bring their families to Hamburg and settle into requisitioned housing. Some of them carry out vendettas against the German population, at the same time as beginning to repatriate art treasures etc to Britain.
For me the novel raised a number of interesting issues while telling a believable story.
My rating: 4.5
About the author
Reviewed in The Guardian in 2013
Rhidian Brook's family history handed him The Aftermath more or less on a plate. His grandfather, Walter Brook, allocated a requisitioned house in Hamburg in 1946, took the unusual decision to share it with the owners, rather than dispossessing them.
(This review is quite critical of what it considers to be the thin-ness of the novel, and lost opportunities.)