Book Reviews

A Small Person Far Away by Judith Kerr

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List Price: £6.99


Paperback: 224 Pages.

Published: 07 May 2002 by HarperCollins Publishers

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 0007137621

EAN: 9780007137626

Berlin is where Anna lived before Hitler, when she was still a German child; before she spoke a word of English, before her family had all become refugees. Long before her happy new existence in London. But Mama is there, dangerously ill. Anna is forced to go back, to deal with questions of life and death, to face old fears, and to discover the past which she has so long shut away.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

A brilliant ending to this series - how Anna grew up

Judith Kerr's first autobiographical novel was "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit" which is the story of her escape from pre-war Berlin with her family as a child. The book is very much told from a child's point of view and is normally marketed as a children's book although I think that any adult would find it compelling reading. In "Bombs on Aunt Dainty" the author tells of her life as a German refugee teenager in war time London and her move into adulthood. This is also an excellent read but it seems like it is for a slightly older reader than the first volume. This third book is about the adult Judith (called Anna in the books) and is written for a more adult reader; it is as compelling as the other two and if you read them in order you can see the way that Anna's understanding and experience of life has changed as she has become older - when you read the books as a set you can see the way that this has been crafted.

In this novel Anna is an adult, is newly married and has to visit post-war Berlin. The book dwells on memory - Anna's memory but also the collective memory of those who experienced the war. Nothing much happens in the way of action but Anna is continually faced with trying to understand what has happened to her family and her original country during the events of the last few years and dealing with how it makes her feel. That makes this book sound worthy and dull which it isn't because the author has a simple style and a lightness of touch which make it interesting and thoughtful at the same time.

The small person of the title is Anna as a child, separated from the adult Anna by war and trauma. The Anna of this book has been shaped by her experiences and she can only wonder what sort of person she would have been had things been different. There is a lot to think about in this small volume which I recommend that you read after the first two. It is a brilliant ending to the series enhanced by your experience of having watched Anna grow up during the preceding books.

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