Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Karolina's Twins - by Ronald H. Balson: Book Review

Publishing Date: September 6th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page No.: 320

This is another Holocaust book, but with a twist, at least for me. This is the third book in the Liam and Catherine series. I haven't read the previous two books, but we'll see if/when I'll read them.

Karolina's Twins starts without unnecessary preparation and jumps straight to the point, which I loved: Lena Woodward, a Holocaust survivor, wants to find two twins born to her best friend in 1943 in Poland, therefore she hires a lawyer - Catherine, and an investigator - Liam. This is the first story of the novel, the past story. In the present day, there is the plot concerning Lena and her son Arthur. There is also the family life of Liam and Catherine.

While the story Lena recounts about her life and the War years is heart-gripping, raw, and beautifully written and told, the case filed by Arthur against his mother Lena is too much: it's not credible and the only thing it managed to do was portray Arthur as a mean person. How are we to believe he's a good guy in the end when he suddenly drops the charges when he learns the truth Lena chose not to tell him? This abrupt change is hard to believe. I kept reminding myself that Arthur is 60+ years old, and not the helpless and reckless man he seems to be. His relationship with his mother is dry, artificial, and hardly believable. Speaking of artificial - so is Liam and Catherine's. I thought it a sweet idea to have a family team involved in solving a case, one a lawyer, one an investigator, but their relationship was credible only when they were talking about work. Their relationship as husband and wife is dry, they exchange stiff lines, Catherine has at some point a sudden outrage that was so unpredictable and over something so trivial it was weird, like I was part of a moment I shouldn't have witnessed. {There were also some allusions to events that happened in the other two books, and this is something that makes me not that interested in reading them. They fall in the unnecessary drama category.}

However. The book mostly focuses on Lena's story. The idea seems hardly believable, but it caught my interest and I was engaged till the end. As one character said: people did unexpected things during the War years, so I just rolled with the plot. As with many books before this, I blame myself for thinking ahead; right when the plot twist was about to be revealed, I guessed it, and the revealing came to confirm my guess. This didn't bother me, because this wasn't the point. I liked how Lena's story evolved, I empathized with her when she learned what she wanted, and regretted with her the missing years. She wasn't the depressed War survivor, and this gives the reader a good feeling when reading the book, not doom and gloom. It's not a surprise that her story is my favorite part of the novel. Probably this is the best part of the novel because it was aided by all the available resources on the War and Holocaust. The author did a good job knitting them together and putting forward a strong woman's story.

Anyone who likes to read historical novels about the World War II and about the Holocaust will enjoy Lena and Karolina's story, and will be willing to overlook the shortcomings of the rest of the novel.

I received a free e-book copy of this novel from the publisher via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

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