Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A Parachute in the Lime Tree - Annemarie Neary

‘He’s got his heart set on something and he’ll not be blown off course.’

This is a beautifully written historical novel set primarily in Ireland at the time of World War II. It follows the lives of four main characters whose lives will intertwine and impact on each other in powerful ways.

Oskar and Elsa were next-door neighbours and sweethearts in Berlin before World War Two, but are now separated by war. Elsa, who is Jewish, escapes from Berlin and manages to reach neutral Ireland via the Kindertransport, separated from her dear parents who are left behind in Holland, and about whose dangerous situation she is so anxious. In April 1941, now a somewhat disillusioned member of the Luftwaffe and finding himself flying over Ireland, Oskar takes his chance and abandons the crew of his plane, deserting from the war in a desperate attempt to find his lost love, Elsa.

It is Kitty who one morning discovers the parachute caught up in one of the lime trees in the garden of her home in remote Dunkerin. Finding Oskar is a curious, exciting event in her humdrum life and will impact on her future. Elsewhere there is a Charlie, a young medical student who meets Elsa and falls in love with her.

This is a moving and emotional wartime read. The author transports us back to the past and draws us into the lives of these young people living and loving in such difficult times, experiencing such intense emotions. Through the skillful characterisation we get to know each of them as individuals and at the same time the author convincingly weaves together the four strands to her tale.

The writing is lyrical and beautiful. There is sadness, separation and anxiety, but also powerful love, belief and determination against the odds. Elsa is a talented pianist and her love of, and need for music keeps her going through hard, uncertain times. There is a beautiful, romantic passage when Charlie is observing Elsa play:

‘…once Elsa began to pick out he melody, the music took over. As he watched her play, he memorised the lie of her hair, the roll of her shoulders as she used her body to give power to the music. He knew that he would be able to mark this as the moment of his falling in love and he wanted to be able to remember every detail of it. He guessed that the feeling she put into the music signalled some other love that was lost now. He wondered if she would ever feel that way for him.’

I really liked how Annemarie Neary concluded the story; I personally love an ending that ties up loose ends and I thought it brought the novel as a whole to a fitting conclusion and touched my heart.

I also love how the book itself is designed, with the lovely pages subtly patterned with a black and white image of trees at the start of each section.

This is a very well-written work of historical fiction, powerfully evocative of place and time. I would certainly read more writing by this author. 


Published by The History Press Ireland

Thank you very much to the author for kindly sending me a copy of this novel to read and review. 


  1. It sounds wonderful. I think I was offered a review copy but came in during my one week of self restraint!

    1. Self restraint re books, what's that?! Can you send me some please! It is a lovely read. Thanks for commenting Ellie.

  2. This sounds like a good read. I will have to look out for it, but for now I'm concentrating on reducing my bookshelves before Mr complains too much, lol ;) Great review!

    1. Thanks for your comment Jane. I know where you are coming from re Mr who complains about amount of books, one here too! :)

  3. This sounds beautiful indeed! I'm not really a wartime reader but just finished The Soldier's Wife (Margaret Leroy) and enjoyed that very much. Currently I'm reading about the potato famine in an earlier Ireland, 1840s, Star of the Sea (Joseph O'Connor).

    So maybe I'll read this book, too. I do like the sound of it a lot.

    1. Thanks for commenting Judith. It's not a very long book and nicely structured. I don't seem to read much fiction with Ireland as a setting so this made a good change.
      I think The Soldier's Wife came out here under the title The Collaborator and I read and enjoyed it.

  4. This looks so good! Thanks for mentioning the subtle images on the chapter pages because that, in addition to your glowing review, made me want to read A Parachute in the Lime Tree.

    1. Thanks for commenting Shirley. They really suit the book and I liked them.

  5. Oooh, looks like a good one for my coming Your Favourite series.... Hope the New Year is going well for you.

    1. Thanks for commenting Carole. Hope yours is good too.

  6. Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I think I'd love this... and will definitely look for it. Thanks!

  7. Love historical fiction...thanks for sharing.

    My post is for SEVEN LOCKS.

    Stopping by from Carole's January Books I Loved. I am in that list as # 46.

    Silver's Reviews
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