Book reviewer, Judith Barrow is a writer of short stories, poems, plays, and articles published throughout the British Isles. Here is Judith’s take on The Circumstantial Enemy.
This book is based on real events that happened during World War II and it is obvious the author has also researched extensively. The plot reads authentically with many twists and unexpected events. Set between 1941-1952 , It’s a cross-genre story of history, politics, war and romance: a story that exposes the devastation and horror of war, the reactions of human beings to the stress and trauma of enforced separation from family and friends, of enduring love against all the odds. The pace is swift and encompasses the difficult period when Yugoslavia was divided into Serbia and Croatia, moving to Italy, the stockades in North African, American prisoner of war camps and on to post war Europe.
Yet all is not doom and gloom; there are touches of humor here and there, showing the resilience of the human condition.
“A strong protagonist, embodied by self-respect, honor, courage; a man who faces life with stubborn perseverance even in his darkest moments”
The characters are well portrayed with authentic and individualistic dialogue, particularly that of the protagonist, Tony Babic, shown in so many layers through both his actions and internal dialogue as the story progresses. As the story moved forward I felt, as a reader, that I almost knew what his responses would be to everything he faced. This is a strong protagonist, embodied by self-respect, honor, courage; a man who faces life with stubborn perseverance even in his darkest moments. And the minor characters, being well drawn and believable, give excellent support within the plot.
The descriptions of each of the settings are extremely well written and give a great sense of place.
If I had any reservations about this debut novel it would be that sometimes, just sometimes, a point is belabored, slowing the action down. But, as I say, it is a small irritation compared with the enjoyment I had reading The Circumstantial Enemy.
Striking cover as well! I gave The Circumstantial Enemy 4* out of 5*.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with wars as the background and a touch of romance and I look forward to reading John R Bell’s next novel.