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WINNER – National Indie Excellence Award 2017 for Literary Fiction
BRONZE WINNER – Foreword INDIES 2016, War & Military
HONORABLE MENTION – San Francisco Book Festival 2017, General Fiction
“A great historical novel, a touching family saga, and a noir wartime thriller all rolled into one terrific narrative.” —Lee Child, New York Times best-selling author
Set in Denmark in the darkest days of World War II, The Second Winter is a cinematic novel that, in its vivid portrayal of a family struggling to survive the German occupation, captures a savage moment in history and exposes the violence and want inherent in a father's love.
It is 1941. In occupied Denmark, an uneasy relationship between the Danish government and the Germans allows the country to function under the protection of Hitler's army, while Danish resistance fighters wage a bloody, covert battle against the Nazis. Fredrik Gregersen, a brutish, tormented caretaker of a small farm in Jutland laboring to keep his son and daughter fed, profits from helping Jewish fugitives cross the border into Sweden. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, Polina, a young refugee from Krakow, finds herself impressed into prostitution by Germans and Danes alike. When Fredrik steals a precious necklace from a helpless family of Jews, his own family's fate becomes intertwined with Polina's, triggering a ripple effect that will take decades and the fall of the Berlin Wall to culminate.
|Publisher:||Other Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Craig Larsen was born in 1963 and is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Columbia Law School. His first novel, Mania, was published in 2009. A single father, Larsen has lived in New York and Europe. He currently resides in Northern California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Many thanks to the author, who provided a complimentary copy of the book via the publisher. I wrote half of my senior thesis on women’s relational bonds during the Holocaust, and this time period has always interested me. “The Second Winter” provides a different perspective, one with which I was mostly unfamiliar. Rather than focusing on concentration camp experiences or the lives of soldiers, Craig Larsen draws forth various ordinary characters whose lives slowly coalesce throughout the narrative, forming a compelling tapestry of fate and fortune. As such, this novel has a far-reaching scope, reminding me of Vasily Grossman’s “Life and Fate”. Each character’s actions and decisions produce a ripple effect that inevitably has an influence on many others, demonstrating that in either peace or wartime, in occupied or freed territory, no one exists in a vacuum. Gritty realism characterizes “The Second Winter”. Larsen pulls no punches, and this is not a happily-ever-after tale. Much of the story unfolds in Denmark during WWII, with forays into East and West Berlin a few decades thereafter, and the impact of German occupation and poverty features prominently throughout the storyline. Hardworking people who find themselves with no good prospects are forced into the territory of moral ambiguity, as Larsen adroitly emphasizes. Polina, the primary character, is a young Polish Jew forced into prostitution, and her interactions with both Germans and Danes imbue the tale with a unique viewpoint without being salacious. The commonplace routine of daily life belies the complexities of relationships and motives that make this a notable book worthy of a thoughtful read.
Considering the brutality of this emotional and often violent book the descriptive writing was beautiful and shows the author, Craig Larsen, to be a very talented writer. "The Second Winter" is a dark, raw and graphic story set during WW2 focusing between a Danish man, Fredrik (a brute of a drug user), who profits from assisting Jews cross the border to Sweden and Polina, a young Polish girl forced into prostitution. On one particular occasion Fredrik steals a necklace from a fleeing Jew and triggers a chain of events that bring the two storylines together and for me a very sentimental and tearful ending. We are shown in this book just how despicable mankind can be during war and conflict and I imagine this will be a tough read for a lot of people - as it was for me at times - since the author highlights the true horrors often kept hidden. There's drug use, violence, prostitution and murder, a complex mix in the atrocities of war. However, at the heart of it is a fathers love and the want for his children - I think the author has captured this perfectly considering the storyline. I really enjoyed this dark book, yes it was tough, but probably very true to life and I imagine the family recollections/research done must have been very hard going. It really makes you realise just how good our life is nowadays. On an extra note this hardback book is beautifully printed with a gorgeous sleeve setting Polona's scene perfectly and showing just how much effort must have gone into publishing it.
This was a different point of view from most of the books I've been reading about WWII. This one tells the story of people helping the Jews escape from the Germans. While they are able to escape and live, they are still miserable treated, at least by Frederik Grergerson. They are delivered to the sea and put on boats which deliver them to other ports of safety. However, if Frederik thinks they have something of value, he will take it and send them on their way. That is how he ends up with a satchel filled with jewelry made of precious stones. That satchel is where most of the trouble begins. Also, Frederik is an arse, the biggest. The story goes back and forth from 1940 - 1941 to 1969. The story was very well written and there were moments when I was holding my breath, hoping that the Germans would not find the person they were looking for. And other moments when I was yelling at the characters "NO, don't do that". That is how much I was into this book. I was so into it that I could not put it down. When it was over, I found myself saying "now what?". This was a great thriller that produced goose pimples, yelling at the characters, breath holding, a couple of wish slappings and all in all quality entertainment. My kind of book. Thanks Craig Larsen for providing that. Also huge thanks to Other Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.