Book reviews – January 2024 – Sallie Eden – All The Broken Places

All The Broken Places by John Boyne.  Published in paperback by Penguin, 2023

Written by the author of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, and reflecting on the horrors of that period and its aftermath.

Shockingly realistic, yet hypnotically readable. To use a cliché, it’s a devastatingly real page-turner, moving from Germany to Paris and beyond, each page seeming to bring new and shocking disclosures.
The story focuses on Gretel Fernsby, widowed and living a quiet comfortable life in a mansion block in London. Gretel has a secret and she rarely socialises, caring only for her neighbour opposite and seeing her son occasionally.
She is disturbed when new neighbours move into the flat below hers but, despite her initial doubts about them, she forms a friendship with their child, a solitary, bookish nine year old.
This is a story about secrets, secrets that are gradually revealed, with inevitable consequences. It begs the question, would you reveal your secret if to do so would ruin your life but save the life of another?
I didn’t think it possible to repeat the emotional masterpiece that is ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ but this is its equal, another stunning story of outstanding and thought provoking creativity.

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