Friday 10 August 2012

Strong Winds of Travel and War

We woke up this morning and headed for the Hobart airport bright and early. As our flight was delayed for about an hour we sat in the airport watching people and reading.
I have been reading the book 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. Amanda is an English writer who grew up in Essex, England and now lives in France with her family. 22 Britannia Road is her first novel.

It is the story of a young Polish couple, Silvana and Januz who are separated during WWII when he goes off to fight a war leaving Silvana and their young son behind in Warsaw.
It isn't long  before each is caught up in their own battle of survival to stay alive, Silvana living in the forests of eastern Europe with her son, Aurek and Janus ending up in France falling in love with a local farm girl. Each witness several atrocities that have dire consequences on their life. The horrible experiences each endures causes many traumas, secrets and regrets both endure and must come to terms with once reunited at the end of the war in England as refugees.

Whilst I was able to get into this book, enjoyed the style of writing and thought the story was excellent, there was something I just can't pinpoint about the characters. I had difficulty feeling for them the way I wanted to although I think they were described quite comprehensively.  This is the author's first novel and I do believe it is an excellent effort however I failed to rave about it as other reviewers have.  I would definitely read other books by this author because there is a great deal to like about her writing.  I thought the locations were vividly described and I could almost smell the grass in the fields the cold of  the  winter forests.

It seemed to me the male characters were much better fleshed out than the female characters.  I really didn't care much what happened to Silvana until the end when it finally started to click into place a bit more The clinginess of her young son was realistically claustrophobic but I couldn't warm to him for an instance. I would be interested to know what others thought about this book both from the point of view of the plot and then the characters operating within the story.

But not to linger too long on the book as we were boarding a plane and off we went towards Sydney. I was becoming more interested in getting to South America than thinking for long about WWII.

Our take off was smooth and the pilot made up a lot of time in the air with a good tail wind. However we flew into Sydney experiencing gale force winds with gusts up to 100 kph (60 mph) side on and the plane was tossed around more than I ever remember experiencing in all of my years of flying.  At one point I was hanging on hard to both arm rests, quite white knuckled and there weren't many people chatting at that time. I felt like I was riding on a twig going down a raging river.  All I could think of were all of the incidents Qantas has had over the past year or so.

When we did touch the ground I felt a strong combination of motion sickness and total relief at having landed safely. I did wonder if the wind would flip us as we continued down the runway.

As we left the plane I actually congratulated the pilot on landing in such a ferocious wind. I said to him, "Great job landing, Thank you" and a woman in front of me turned around and said, "Did you really just thank him for that landing?"  "Yes", I told her, " I could not have landed that plane in that wind."  I know she thought I was crazy.

South America or bust..
We are now comfortably ensconced at the Ibis Airport hotel waiting for a 6:00 am shuttle bus ride back to Sydney airport heading to Santiago, Chile, South America tomorrow. I am hoping to learn about South American authors while away amongst visiting art, architecture, food, people and animals.  It looks like the hotels we are staying in have wi fi connections so I should be able to share our experiences with friends and family who wish to follow them. It will be fun to see what the bookshops are like and if there are Penguin books in South America.

We just heard that more than 18,000 homes lost power in northern Sydney (Manly area), a roof blew off a Christian school in Manly and the airport had many delayed flights.  Sometimes all a person wants is to have two feet firmly planted on the ground.


  1. Your Sydney flight sounded truly hairy Pam has to be pretty determined to get out of Tassie these days

    1. Well you know, when you want to go somewhere you have to go. Haha, thanks Sandra.

  2. Not sure if you'll see this before your onward flight but, safe voyages!

  3. Thanks Alex, yes I did see it. It's 10 pm Fri night here and we leave Sydney Sat morn. Next time I speak to you I may have a Spanish accent. haha.

  4. What an exciting first flight! Glad I wasn't with you........
    Looking forward to your blogs from So. AM.


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