Commentary
5:00 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Book Review: Picking Up The Pieces In 'The Aftermath'

Credit TheeErin / Flickr / Creative Commons

The title of Rhidian Brook's new novel, The Aftermath, refers to the years immediately following World War II.

This particular story begins in September 1946, after the Allies had announced the division lines of the new Germany, and the rebuilding process had begun. The French got the wine, the Americans got the view, and the British got the ruins.

British Colonel Lewis Morgan was assigned to rebuild Hamburg from its current state of ash and rubble. During the rebuilding, the British officers often commandeered the homes of the more wealthy Germans, casting out the former tenants to live in camps. A house was found for Colonel Morgan, who would soon be joined by his wife, Rachael, and younger son, Edmund.

Since Colonel Morgan was a compassionate man, he did not turn out the home's occupants, Bauhaus architect Stefan Lubert and his daughter. Instead he proposed a joint living arrangement between the two families. The Morgans’ relationship was already strained, since they were individually grieving the loss of their oldest son, in a bombing raid that took place in a supposed "safe zone." When Colonel Morgan asked his wife and son to live under the same roof as the enemy, the relationship suffered.

Eventually, a dangerous truce is reached between Rachael and Stefan. And as Hamburg is being rebuilt, so are the relationships of those living in the Lubert home. Although only Stefan studied at "the House of Construction," both he and Colonel Morgan excel at it.