4 out of 4 stars
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Ophelia by Norman Bacal builds around two families bound together by a vow that transcends generations. One family escaping the jaws of Nazi threats while the other, good Samaritans, willing to aid their escape. Treacherous waters threatened their lives but they survive to tell the tale. The novel is filled with numerous obstacles that Tal, the son of Geri Neilson, has to overcome. Much like the dangerous waters that threatened the life of his father and grandfather, he has to fight his own battles to live. His inheritance is about to be ripped out of his grasp. To make matters worse he is not mentally prepared to take control of what is rightfully his.
The book is broken down into three parts. Part I sets the background for all the characters’ lives. Each person playing an integral role in the fabric of this society. Part II depicts a journey of a person seeking to escape his demons. Part III is the majestic comeback of an extremely intelligent man. Once lost but determined to create meaning in his life.
Ophelia is introduced elegantly, her double life adds so many layers to her character. It becomes quite evident that she is an integral part of Tal’s life. Though she is mentioned scarcely in the book her impact is felt at every instance. Her presence is emotive, unforgettable. Other characters in the book are also developed well, they each play significant roles and they all make necessary contributions to the very fabric of this storyline. You will encounter some unexpected villains, you may sympathize with some of them. Equally, you will be shocked by how cleverly the author introduces other characters.
I found the transition to different languages and accents interesting, it signified an infusion of cultures which I appreciated. I also liked how I was completely immersed in Tal’s thoughts. There wasn’t anything I specifically disliked, I would only be nitpicking to find faults. However, I would have loved it if the author dug further into Ophelia’s romantic relationship. This would have made her inner conflict more tangible.
This is a brilliant book, I would definitely want it as part of my library in hardcover. It is beautifully written and professionally edited. It has striking analogies and images from past historical events throughout the story. This book forces you to keep crossing the bridge between reality and fiction. I, therefore, see it fit to give it 4 out of 4 stars.
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