Book Review: Last Train to London: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton (five stars)
“It’s the problems you fail to anticipate that defeat you.”
Extraordinary historical fiction. Deep personal stories woven into the tapestry of a horrible two years of European history. Intense first-person narrative of the principal actors. The historic people and actions as dramatic as the fiction. Several main characters are historic and reported as they really were, even if immediate actions and words are invented.
“I’m a woman who can’t bear a child in a world that values nothing else from me!” “You are a woman doing important work, in a world that badly needs you.”
What historical fiction should be: takes the reader deep into the lives of people trying to navigate a time of upheaval and horror. Americans are largely ignorant of what happened in Europe—especially eastern Europe—as the shadow of Nazi Germany snuffed out whole countries and peoples.
‘It was an honor, to be listened to closely, to be heard. One could honor someone without agreeing with them.’
Individuals—women in a time when they were ignored if not outright discriminated against—dare to oppose the terror and make a difference.
‘Foreign Secretary Halifax said that any British response could provoke war.”
Obvious parallels to contemporary history.
“We haven’t begun to see the extent of his man’s capacity for cruelty.”
Quibbles: Got the baby on the train all wrong. A baby small enough to fit in a picnic basket won’t be saying “Mama” to anyone. And won’t stay quiet for 36 hours. And will need to be fed.
“The Last Train to London is Truus’s story, and that of the children and their families. I hope it does them all justice, and that it will inspire readers as surely as they all have inspired me.” Meg Waite Clayton