Far Away, Victoria Blake

Far Away, Victoria Blake

At first this appears to be a novelisation of a POW escape story, in this case based on the author’s father’s own experiences escaping from German captivity in Italy, it soon evolves into something more complex. Two more stories soon enter the stage – the first being written in notebooks by the two POWs at the centre of the original story and the second involving their descendants and the long term impact of the war and their relative’s experiences. This final story is actually at the heart of the book, and slowly takes over as the book goes on.

Even within the second strand there are two stories, with one of the POWs writing an account of his wartime experiences and the other an imaginative fairy story. The two men are loosely based on real POWs, and in particular on Dan Billany, a Hull author who died in mysterious circumstances after escaping from captivity in Italy. During his time in captivity he wrote the bulk of two novels, which he left with an Italian family when he decided to attempt to cross the Apennines. After the war these notebooks arrived back in England, and it was this mystery that inspired the author to write this novel.

I found this an engaging read, with three stories that linked together nicely, to paint a convincing picture of the impact of the war on the POW’s relatives, both for those who survived and those who didn’t.

Author: Victoria Blake
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 264
Publisher: Matador
Year: 2015

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