Alright Friends, you know how much of a total history nerd I am. Which is why I am so stinkin’ excited to share this book with you all.
I was approached by John R. Bell (I totally played it cool, but I was on the other end of my computer screen having a slight fangirl moment) about his book The Circumstantial Enemy. He very kindly asked if I might be interested in reading his book and writing a review. (YES! I mean…sure. Sure, I can do that.) I had heard about his book in the historical fiction circles, but hadn’t taken an in-depth look at what The Circumstantial Enemy was all about. As soon as I read the blurb on Goodreads, I was so ready to throw the kids some kibble and dive into the book for the next few hours. (I’m just kidding. I fed them first. I even tucked them into bed before I started reading. Sometimes adulting is so hard.)
From Goodreads ~ “When Croatia becomes a Nazi puppet state in 1941, carefree young pilot Tony Babic finds himself forcibly aligned with Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Unbeknownst to Tony, his sweetheart Katarina and best friend Goran have taken the side of the opposing communist partisans. The threesome are soon to discover that love and friendship will not circumvent this war’s ideals.”
I have read my fair share of books set in WWII, but never from this perspective. I was unfamiliar with Croatian history as I began this book, so briefly studied up a bit on information that I was missing so that I could better immerse myself into the story. However, the book read beautifully without my having done so. John R. Bell is a masterful storyteller, fleshing out his characters skillfully and bringing them to life before the readers’ eyes. He didn’t shy away from the hardships of war; from politics, to tragedies, to the toll war takes on the human being. His research was impeccable, and the storyline fast-paced and breathtaking. (I mean that quite literally. There were many times that I would finish a paragraph, only to realize that I had been holding my breath.) And the whole time that I was reading, John R. Bell’s father-in-law was in the back of my mind, like a wise teacher who has seen things that I couldn’t even imagine.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Mr. Bell. I loved reading it, and encourage you to click the link to check out the rest of the article:
“Thrilled by the opportunity, Grandad agreed to a host of interviews. I was no longer a passive listener. Rather, I treated our exchange as might a journalist – probing for details and questioning events that seemed overstated. The most interesting revelation was his frankness. He soon forgot the recorder was on, revealing more than ever before – some of it both shocking and disturbing. Between the sessions, I checked his facts to ensure the timelines were correct and life in POW camps on US soil were as he described. Simultaneously, I was reading relevant nonfiction books to better understand time, place, and prisoner predicament.” Read the whole article here!
I feel so honored to have read this story and gone on the journey that this book set before me. A definite recommend for all, and a BIG ‘thank you’ to John R. Bell for the opportunity to read his amazing book.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.