The March challenge was a book that I had been meaning to read. I chose a book I have been meaning to read since it was recommended to me on the back of my January blog when I highly recommended the book Twice Born by Margaret Mazzantini which is set during the siege of Sarajevo. The book in question is “The Cellist of Sarajevo” by Steven Galloway which is also set during the siege and is based on a true story.
This was also a compelling and moving story about a war that I should know more about and feel bad that I didn’t know more or do more at the time. A siege akin to that of Leningrad (St Peterburg) during the second world war but only 20 years ago. The book as the title suggests is about a cellist who having witnessed the death of 22 people and seen 70 wounded as they waited in a quae for bread plays his cello each day in honour of the dead despite the fact that he is in danger of being shot by a sniper himself. The book is less about the cellist and more about those who he inspires who are caught up in the siege and are fighting to survive and his brave act compels them to live. The beauty of the book is that it brings home to you the reality of the siege of Sarajevo. I imagined what it would be like if it was Edinburgh. The Edinburgh that we know but an Edinburgh under siege trams, buses and cars abandoned and full of bullet holes. Princess Street empty apart from a brave person trying to attempt a run from one part of the city to the other but under danger of sniper fire. An Edinburgh with no electricity, no food in the shops and limited running water only available from the fire stations that haven’t been destroyed. An Edinburgh whose major buildings including Edinburgh Castle have been bombed. Think that is unthinkable? So did the citizens of Sarajevo but it happened to them. As this quote shows.
“There is no way to tell which version of a lie is the truth. Is the real Sarajevo the one where people were happy, treated each other well, lived without conflict? Or is the real Sarajevo the one he sees today, where people are trying to kill each other, where bullets and bombs fly down from the hills and the buildings crumble to the ground?”
Other books read over March were:
- The Year of the Runaway – Sunjeeva Sahata
- The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
- (The Cellist of Sarajevo) – Steven Galloway
- Missing Rose – Linda Newbery
- The Story of the Lost Child – Elena Ferrante
- Two, One, Three – Denzil Meyrick
- Dalintober Moon – Denzil Meyrick
- What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
- You sent me a letter – Lucy Dawson
- Faith and Beauty – Jane Thynne
- Heavenfield -LJ Ross
I enjoyed them all with the exception of “You sent me a letter” which was very contrived and unbelievable. Particular attention has to go to the Elena Ferrante book. This is the last of the four books in this series of a friendship of two women who grow up in the slums of Naples and have a lifetime relationship I say relationship as it’s not always a friendship. It took me awhile in the first book to get gripped by these books but once I was drawn in I was really drawn in. It’s about life and the people who are in our lives that connect with us to make us who we are and at heart the little child is still there despite the fact you are an elderly lady. Would also recommend Faith and Beauty by Jane Thynne set in Germany just before the Second World War about a British secret agent who infiltrates high Nazi society also a compelling and must read series.
Finally next month’s book challenge is to read a book recommended to me by my bookshop or library. I have been set one by Vivian of Mainstreet Trading. The challenge continues.