My historical novels Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, colonial New England, travels, and whatever else seizes my fancy...

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Book Review: "Occupied," a novel based on a true story by Kurt Blorstad

I'VE ALWAYS SAID that every family has a great story to tell. I've done it in my genealogy-inspired series, and Kurt Blorstad has a real winner in Occupied.

Crossing the ocean for better times becomes a familiar story to the Blorstad family. Trygve Blorstad’s parents may hail from southern Norway, but they met in Brooklyn, N.Y. Their first son is born there in 1929, and the Blorstads have three sons by the time they return to their Norwegian home during the Great Depression. 

N.Y.'s factories begin reopening in the mid-1930s, so Trygve’s father returns to Brooklyn in 1936. This time he means to stay, and will send for his family as soon as he earns enough money for their fares.

Trygve is only 7 when his mother takes him, brothers Thoralf and Odd (Odin), and sister Thelma, to live with their Bestemor (grandmother) in a tiny coastal town. Much of Kurt Blorstad's Occupied is a charming tale of city boys learning to farm, cut peat, and catch fish under the guidance of elder relatives. They all come to love Norway’s boreal forests and rocky seacoast.

Then, things turn more serious in 1940 when World War II arrives in Vanse, and the village is occupied by German soldiers. Resistance movements spring up across Norway, including Vanse. The village's residents can’t stop the Germans from taking whatever they wish, but they soak up sightings, careless speech, and what goes on in the naval base across the fjord, and pass on what they learn. 

It's not long before Trygve is asked to keep watch during a Resistance meeting. Then, in 1944, the 15-year old is lent a telescope to keep watch over the German naval traffic from a rocky knoll on the family's farm. You never know what might prove vital ….

Author Kurt Blorstad is Trygve’s son, and does an amazing job of bringing his father’s war journal to life in Occupied. Mr. Blorstad takes care to maintain the viewpoint of a boy too young to understand everything that is happening, then maturing beyond his years with the knowledge that Nazis exact terrible vengeance on informers and their families. World War II buffs shouldn't miss Occupied , and if you love family sagas like I do, it's for you too. It’s a terrific read for young readers as well.

Occupied, Kurt Blorstad, Odin Publishing, 2019, $14.95, pb, 255 pp, 9781732632400 

1 comment:

  1. JoAnn - Thanks for your review of Occupied. The context you set it in shows both the level of history you understand and the depth of care you feel for family histories, whether real or fictionalized.


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