Audible Book Review: The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska

I am pleased to be welcoming Joanna Czechowska to Novel Kicks today and the audible blog tour for her novel, The Black Madonna of Derby.

During and after the Second World War, 200,000 Poles were given leave to remain in the UK as thanks for their help during the conflict – this book is a fictional account of just one of those families. Set during the 1960s and 1970s, The Black Madonna of Derby traces the story of the Baran family living in a provincial town in England. Their seemingly ordinary existence hides secrets of past betrayal, madness, and tragedy.

The story focuses on three generations: the elderly grandmother whose proud Polish patriotism hides dark events from the past that affect the present, the mother whose tries to meld her past life in war-torn Poland and Germany with her new life in England and the granddaughter who lives a double life culturally and linguistically – Polish at home and English outside.

The swinging sixties in London is vividly recreated, as is the hardship of life under communism in the Poland of that time. This book is unique in that there are no other novels dealing with the story of second generation Poles in the UK. It is a story that deserves to be told, a story of a group of people who have had little attention in the literature. Listen to what they have to say.

When I was asked to take part in the audible blog blitz for this novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The information about the book intrigued me. I am pleased that I got the chance to listen to this book.

The narrator, Claire Nicholls has a very soothing voice and conveys the story in a clear way which made it easy to follow.

Moving onto the book itself, it focuses on three generations of women from the same family. It is an insight as to what it was like for immigrants after the second world war and the things they had to endure on a daily basis.

Although set in the 60’s and 70’s, this had a contemporary feel to it. I found it interesting to look at the family dynamics and the secrets and lies we hold secret, even from family. It intrigued me as to how these women interacted with each other and how their own childhood and experiences (some of which were horrific,) influenced their choices throughout the story. All of these women are hiding something of themselves for fear of shame and I feel a lot of their personalities are relatable.

I think out of all of the characters, I was drawn to Wanda the most. There was just something about her. I wanted to give her a hug.

The book is not an easy listen. It raises the subject of immigration, how badly people were treated as immigrants of this country, even if they were born here. It also looks at religious and political aspects. These are all subjects that are relevant today and it tells it from a different perspective which I found very interesting and compelling.

As usual, I don’t want to give too much away so there is not a lot more I can say about it.

I really recommend this book, whether you chose to get it via Audible or as an eBook. It’s a very thought provoking novel and I feel it is very much worth a read/listen.

 

About Joanna…

The daughter of a Polish father and English mother, Joanna Czechowska was born in Derby and studied history at University College London. She now works as a journalist. The Black Madonna of Derby, published in Polish under the title Goodbye Polsko, is her first novel.

Say hello on Twitter

The Black Madonna of Derby was released as an audiobook via Audible on 6th April 2020. Click to view on Audible UK and Audible US

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Laura
I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Pinterest
LinkedIn
INSTAGRAM
RSS
Follow by Email
Book Club
Book Club
Twitter
Poll
Archives
Categories