The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Eliza Bennet has the life she's always dreamed of. She's who she wants to be, and she's with the man she loves.
But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She's escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.
This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia - one girl, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from.
I have been unsure if the star rating to give this book and I believe that's because this is not my usual read. I would have given this overall 3.5* but I have rounded this up for Goodreads and Amazon. This is my first book by Sarginson, I do have another of her books on my shelf, which is a thriller. I think I went into this one thinking it was going to be in the same genre.
The cover and the blurb give little away to this book, to be honest I think I went into this pretty blind with what it was about. I am kind of pleased I did as I don't think I would have picked this book up due to the themes. Historic fiction is not my thing and it's saving grace for me was the crossing into modern - ish day life.
I got into this book quite quickly, I found it more of a struggle reading Ernest's POV, again I think that's down to the act this was the historic aspect of the book. I liked the way the story was presented through the change POV's.
The novel is broken into three sections, the first part is where we meet Klaudia and Eliza, these people are one, Klaudia is leading a double life, due to being bullied at school and wanting to change her past. She ends up getting herself into a big hole with the lie and it begins to spiral out of control.
Ernest as we quickly find out is Klaudia's uncle and he tells us his story along with his brothers through his POV. Some of the story I felt was predictable and I did see aspects of the book coming. This didn't make it any less enjoyable though.
I thought that the description in the novel was beautiful, for me I found the novel a little slow at times, there were parts in the middle I began to lose a little interest in, this was just because it was a little slow. I also thought that the novel deserved more twists and turns, a lot of what happened I could see coming, even though it was a beautifully written novel and a joy to read it just left me feeling a little flat. I also think that it was left with a few questions still to be answered.
I think if you enjoy historical fiction in particular you will enjoy this novel. I also think this is a good novel for finding yourself and discovering who you are. This theme is covered expertly well in the novel.
Overall I did enjoy the novel, it was a different type of read for me, but I felt it could do with more of a punch at the end.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.
Saskia Sarginson has very kindly stopped by with her inspiration for The Other Me.
Blog: The Inspiration for The Other Me
The main inspiration for The Other Me was a deeply personal one –about ten years ago I discovered the identity of my father. By the time I’d tracked him down in France he’d died. I’d missed him by months. But I did meet my half-brother, Vincent, who showed me photographs and was able to fill me in on my family history. To my surprise, I discovered that my father had been Jewish, of Portuguese and Dutch blood. He’d lived in Paris since arriving in the city as a young man. He’d been an artist in the COBRA movement in the early 50’s. He’d always loved horses and dogs and jazz. It was strange to have these facts about him and to feel a connection through them – I love horses and dogs; my daughters are artists. My son plays jazz piano. These were tangible things that seemed to have come down to me through him.
As a blonde, slightly Scandinavian-looking person, I’d never though that I might have Jewish blood. It made me take a new interest in Jewish culture and religion, and of course, I immediately had a different take on WW2, knowing that some of my relatives would have been caught up in the anti-Semitism and quite possibly died in the Holocaust.
I began to think about the importance of knowing our parents – how our identity hinges on who they are. Having stories and facts and anecdotes about my father filled a void. As I stared at the black and white photos of him, searching for similarities, I knew that I wanted to write a story about identity, and about the uncertainty that comes from any ambiguity around the question of parentage. I believe that at some level a child will always know if a parent isn’t their biological one. I knew this from personal experience. I’d been brought up by someone that I called ‘Dad.’ Yet I understood deep down, without anyone telling me, that he wasn’t my real father.
I’d already played with this idea in my second novel, Without You. In The Other Me I wanted to develop the idea further and I wanted to add a historical element, because it occurred to me that I might just as easily have discovered that my father had had links to Nazi Germany, especially with my Saxon colouring. And I asked myself how I’d feel if that was really the case: would I
suddenly inherit guilt? Would I become ashamed? Would it change the way I thought about myself?
These were the questions that were in my mind when I began to construct the story of The Other Me.