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This is a subject I wouldn’t normally choose to read about. I know it happened and I know it is part of history, but I find the subject too heartbreaking to consider it as a relaxing read; which is my primary reason for reading. I think it was on offer on Amazon and the title peaked my interest, so I bought it and began to read…..
Written by Ray Kingfisher, a successful writer of both short stories and novels, The Sugar Men is a historical fiction novel. It is subtitled A Story of Holocaust Echoes, and tells the story of Susannah Morgan who 64 years ago fled the horrors of the Holocaust only to find (understandably!) that the painful memories of her childhood are impossible to shake off.
Now living in Wilmington, North Carolina, she has tried to hide the flashbacks from her children, but as she now faces a key life event she takes the decision to face her past head on and retrace some of her childhood journey. Going against the wishes of her children, she decides to travel back to Germany, the land of her youth and the land that also took away her youth and her family. She relives the painful experiences of her time in Bergen-Belsen, triggered by a visit to the Bergen-Belsen Memorial that now stands on the same spot, and although changed significantly, the memories it evokes are still as raw as they were all those years ago.
I don’t want to go in to too much detail about the story, but I can say that as the reader you are presented with a no holds barred account of her life inside the concentration camp. For me, this book imprints some very strong and powerful images on you, and whether totally accurate or not (it is historical fiction after all), the author does a fantastic job of painting a vibrant picture and getting across the details of what life may have been like inside such a terrible place.
It is a very moving story, and one which has left a strong impression on me. Whether factually correct or not, it certainly raises awareness of one of the most hideous human catastrophes of modern times. A page turner for sure, and one which I would recommend reading if you are looking for an insight in to life in these concentration camps. It may be all you need to satisfy your mind, or it may be an opening in to something else, a need to explore more factual based literature and really examine what went on inside those barbed wire fences.
The story will certainly stay with me and I hope that it is something you would be willing to explore, if like me, you have steered away from the subject in the past.