Written by Lauryn Smith
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I began reading Craig Larsen’s “The Second Winter,” a fictitious story that takes place during World War II. I was confident that the book would be interesting. (Anyone who knows me knows that historical fiction is right up my alley.) I feared, though, that the book would be only marginally original, that it would not stand out among the many others also set during wartime. It was not long before I realized how wrong my latter expectation was.
Larsen expertly differentiates “The Second Winter” by narrowing his scope, homing in on often overlooked subtleties inherent to this anecdote-ridden part of history. With a downtrodden family at the heart of the novel, Larsen emphasizes strained familial relationships and details the twists and turns of fate that are generated by various interpersonal interactions. The war merely acts as a backdrop, a driving force. This unexpected approach makes for a deep, fulfilling read as the plot is enhanced by the setting rather than carried by it. (A special thanks to the author for providing me a copy of the book!)
Dark and dismal, “The Second Winter” takes place in 1941 in German-occupied Denmark. Fredrik Gregersen, a large, callous, imposing man who oversees a small farm in Jutland, partakes in a prohibited side business, namely helping Jewish fugitives cross the border into Sweden. One night, he is presented with an opportunity to steal a satchel of valuable jewelry from a family of escapees, which he does without a second thought. Contained in that satchel is an expensive necklace, which ends up being a key element of the story. The plot thickens with each transfer of ownership of the necklace.
About the Nook
The Nook is a collective space where Reviewers share their thoughts on and reactions to the books they have just finished reading. Have something to say in response to a Reviewer's entry? Add a comment! Consider Reviewers your virtual book buds. You can also check out individual Reviewers' diaries to get a sense each one's unique tastes and ideologies.