The Things We Cherished – Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff’s latest novel is a well plotted, dual-time frame story.  In the contemporary narrative,  two American attorneys, Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, are brought together to work on the defence of a man accused of war crimes during WWII.  The accused, Roger Dykmans,  is reluctant to aid them in his defence, seeming resigned to whatever fate holds for him.   The only clue is a handcrafted anniversary clock which might hold the key to why he allegedly betrayed his brother Hans to the Nazis.

In the engaging historical narrative, we are fed tantalising nuggets of information which eventually come together to explain Roger’s actions.  It’s a love story with Roger falling for Magda, his sister-in-law in what will be a doomed romance.

Romance also features in the modern narrative, with Charlotte and Jack gradually becoming closer despite the emotional baggage of previous relationships.  I found their story less gripping than that of Roger and Magda who had much more to lose but then I have a personal preference for historical fiction.

This is a very touching, readable  story with the focus on love and loyalty rather than the brutality of war.  It’s about how we tend to cling to the past, to our memories – both good and bad.

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