This WWII war story reminds us that while soldiers are fighting and dying at the front, civilians are fighting and dying at home. It is a very appropriate message in today’s world.
Rita is attending university in Krakow as the novel begins. She is enjoying her freedom, loving life as a student, planning her future. But that future takes a sharp turn as world events unfold. She marries, has a child, is again living in a small town, has a love affair and learns an enormous secret. She must survive. She must keep the secret.
There is a fair bit of history here on the Spanish Civil War, on what happened on the Russian front during WWII, what life was like in Poland for civilians, and especially for medical personnel. But for me, it was Rita’s explanation of Darwin’s theory of evolution that was the thread holding all the story lines together.
Is it the best war novel? No, but it does have an interesting point of view. Rosenberg has written several non-fiction books on philosophy and science and that perspective certainly shows itself in this novel. His belief in random mutation and survival of the fittest, his theory of atheism and war and victimization are what kept me reading. I applaud the author for writing a book where the characters tend toward atheism. He writes about topics that most of us don’t even want to think about.
Atheist’s Guide to Reality
…………………and several others
Rosenberg’s, a philosopher, collaborated with biologist Daniel McShea to write “Philosophy of Biology”. Here they lay out the impact of biology on human capacities, social institutions and our ethical values and what that even means.