I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for moving memoir The Boy from Boskovice by Vicky Unwin. Thank you to Anne Cater and Unbound for giving me the opportunity to read and review this utterly mesmerising book.
About the book:
What makes a good man bad? Nature or nurture?
This is the extraordinary story of the author’s father, a Holocaust survivor who left a trail of pain and secrets in his wake.
Vicky Unwin had always known her father – an erstwhile intelligence officer and respected United Nations diplomat – was Czech, but it was not until a stranger turned up on her doorstep that she discovered he was also Jewish.
So began a quest to discover the truth about his past – one that perhaps would help answer the niggling doubts she had always had about her ‘perfect’ dad. Finally persuading him to allow her to open a closely-guarded cache of family books and papers, Vicky discovered the identity of her grandfather: the tormented author and diplomat Hermann Ungar, hugely controversial both in life and in death, who was a protégé and possible lover of Thomas Mann, and a friend of Berthold Brecht and Stefan Zweig. How much of her father’s child was Vicky – and how much of his father’s child was he?
As Vicky worked to uncover deeply-buried family secrets, she would find herself slowly unpicking the lingering power of ‘survivor guilt’ on the generations that followed the Holocaust, and would learn, via a deathbed confession, of the existence of a previously unknown sister.
Together, the sisters attempt to come to terms with what had made their father into the deeply flawed, complex, yet charismatic man he had always been, journeying together through grief and heartache towards forgiveness.
About Vicky Unwin:
Vicky Unwin has had a long career in both book and newspaper publishing, centred round her African roots, and is currently the chair of Wasafiri Magazine and a Caine Prize Council member. Her first book, Love and War in the WRNS, a collection of her mother’s letters home during the Second World War, was published by History Press in June 2015. She has always been fascinated by family secrets and began researching the story behind The Boy from Boskovice shortly before her father’s death in 2012.
Vicky writes extensively about living with cancer at healthylivingwithcancer.co, and is a Trustee of Transform Drug Policy Foundation campaigning for the decriminalisation of drugs after losing her daughter to a ketamine overdose in 2011.
The Boy from Boskovice by Vicky Unwin is the mesmerising and moving story of Tom, the author’s father, a survivor of the holocaust who left a trail of pain and secrets secrets in his wake. Raw and devastatingly honest, this is more than just a book about a charismatic but complex and difficult to know man, it is also a story about a time in history I find utterly compelling to read about.
As someone with a keen interest in genealogy the research side to this book is fascinating. Vicky Unwin lays everything out in easy to understand language, drawing the reader into the story from the very first page. As she slowly peels back the layers of this complicated man and his life (and that of his father, the author’s grandfather), the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, revealing a devastating and moving story that I know will stay with me for a long time to come.
I don’t want to go into too much detail as this is a book you need to read and discover for yourself, so all I will say is that The Boy from Boskovice is a story about family, grief, hidden secrets and the importance of forgiveness. Beautifully written, this is a poignant and richly detailed memoir that I would highly recommend, especially to those who, like I do, have a keen interest in genealogy and history.
The Boy from Boskovice by Vicky Unwin is available to purchase now: Amazon UK
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