Yes, this, Boyne’s latest novel, is a sequel, of sorts, to Boyne’s incredibly successful 2006 YP novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – 11 million copies sold world wide – but All the Broken Places (2022) is a novel for adults.
The story follows the adult life of Bruno’s sister, Gretel, post WWII and up to the present day, in her 90s.
Until the devastating climax of Part 1 the tension propelling the reader’s interest, keeping it bubbling away, is almost solely due to the secret Gretel Fernley holds and we readers understand; if you had read this book’s prequel, that is. The narrative begins in Paris 1946, when Gretel is 12, and also in London 2022, where she is in her 90’s. But it’s the Paris story that takes you into her nightmare. There is also tension in the London plot too, again fuelled by Gretel’s secret: her real identity, but I thought when reading it that the payoff would be the book’s climax too: at the end of Part 3.
No. I was wrong. The book’s climax was totally unexpected, to this reader, but delivered in the most unsensationalist way: almost as an aside. It’s novelistic decisions like this that set apart great writers from the rest.
Although Gretel’s post war story is basically in three parts: Paris 1946, Sydney 1952, and London 1953, her present story, London 2020, runs along with them, and following her throughout is her past and the guilt she feels because of it. It’s the defining theme of all Gretel’s life decisions and the major theme of the book.
After the fantastical saga, A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom (2020) which followed a cast of the same characters over 2000 years, and the almost, slapstick humour of Boyne’s last, The Echo Chamber (2021) – soon to be a TV comedy series, scripted by Boyne – I can happily report that Boyne is back at his narrative best which, for this reader, was his 2017 book, The Heart’s Invisible Furies.
Boyne almost always leads you confidently along his narrative path hand in hand, but with … Furies, and now with ... Broken Places he grabs you by the scruff of the neck.
It would be impossible to relay the plot without giving away the book’s major surprises, of which there are three, and which occur solely when Gretel’s past breaks through, or threatens to break through, into the present. Yet towards the end of her life, it is her own incredible decision, not one forced on her, that finally gives her peace, the redemption she so desperately needs, and the home she believes she deserves.
Here you can purchase the book in various formats.
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