Hamburg, 1946: Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan is requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife, Rachael, and only remaining son, Edmund. But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatised daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged and claustrophobic atmosphere, all must confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.The Aftermath is a novel about our fiercest loyalties, our deepest desires and the transformative power of forgiveness.
Rhidian Brook’s family history provided the inspiration for the novel. His grandfather, Walter Brook, took over a requisitioned house in Hamburg in 1946 and, like the British family in the novel, he made the decision to share it with the German owners, rather than dispossessing them. I found this a difficult novel to engage with, the illicit love affair between two of the main characters seemed rather contrived, and there was a point midway through the story where I lost interest and almost decided to give the book a miss. Nevertheless, I persevered and it is fair to say that the final chapters really do rescue the storyline.