Book Description: Russian refugee Bannister (1927–2004) rarely spoke about her brutal experiences under the regimes of Stalin and Hitler, not even to the American she married after the war. In this memoir, she reveals how a privileged childhood in the 1920s and '30s gave way to horror and loss in the 1940s. Although the sound quality of this production is poor (lots of rustling papers), Rebecca Gallagher does reasonably well with the multiple languages and wisely avoids attempting to replicate European accents. What is irritating, however, is the constant interruption in the form of unnecessary editor's notes, which make the narrative choppy and disjointed. More helpful is the seventh disc, which contains an interview with Bannister's husband and son, a precious audio reminiscence from Nonna herself, recorded in 1993, and abundant PDF materials, including maps, photographs and genealogical data.
My Review: I love to read books that "talk" about World War II. I really wanted to read this book but put it off for a couple of weeks simply because I was afraid of the sadness that comes with reading about WWII.
However, once I began this read I simply couldn't put it down!
I like the way the book begins. It begins with an introduction unlike any other....Nonna has written many diaries and has not told a soul, including her husband and children, what she wrote of her childhood and family. Maybe, the memories were too painful and speaking of them would bring the pain of all that had transpired?
Nonna tells her husband of fifty years that now is the time and takes him to their attic where she has hidden her hand written diaries from so many years ago. Now, she tells, him is the time for him to know the past.
And that is what this read is all about. A time when Hitler and his goons crawled upon the face of the earth. A time when people betrayed their neighbors simply out of fear, a time when faith was all one could cling to and a time of lost.
At times I simply had to put the book down...too much emotion, too many loves lost, and way too much sadness.
This is a great 5 star read not for the faint of heart but for the heart that seeks truth. Nonna tells of her family, their struggles and of her own pilgrimage to make it out of the darkness.
Thanks, Nonna! For being courageous and leaving a legacy for us to follow!