Friday, September 11, 2009

Night of Flames - Douglas W. Jacobson


Always anxious and willing to read anything associated with WWII, I gladly accepted Dorothy's invitation to participate in the blog tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I was originally scheduled to post on September 16th, but then realized that fell smack dab in the middle of BBAW. To make sure this review didn't get lost in the fanfare, I moved the post back to today.

At the outset of our story, we are introduced to Jan and Anna, a young Polish couple, faced with the threat of war in 1939. Jan is a member of the Polish Army and is on the receiving end of the brutality of the German forces. Anna is visiting a Jewish friend in Warsaw when they find themselves amidst a firestorm of bombs and bullets. Jan escapes to London, and Anna, her friend and friend's son run for Belgium, both in hopes of survival. Over a period of five years, we follow each in their involvement in the Resistance against the Nazis, battling the forces of evil and at the same time, desperately searching for each other.

There is much to like about this book. I always find it refreshing to read about WWII from a new perspective. In Night of Flames, we get a strategic, military battlefield perspective that transports one to heart of the action. We also get a rather gritty, realistic view of British and Belgian resistance from the everyday little person trying to make a difference. Jacobson does not sugar-coat the horrors. He weaves historical fact and fiction into an interesting story, and a conclusive (albeit tidy) ending. I appreciate this in a WWII novel.

But the story is not without a few flaws. While the historical events carry the story, character development was on the one-dimensional end of the spectrum and left me feeling less than invested. The dialogue, both internal and external, was stilted and flat. Overall, the writing was factual and lacked emotional depth. I never was able to fully understand the significance of the title of the book, either. This being said, the book is well-worth reading for anyone interested in the era and the unsung heroes of the Resistance.

Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, a businessman, and a WWII enthusiast. His interest in this time period is fueled by the war-time experiences of his Belgian and Polish ancestors. His passion for the stories of the struggle of the common man against the Nazi regime shines through in the details of the story. Earlier this year, he was featured on the War Through the Generations blog hosted by Serena and Anna, with fascinating true stories of valor of the Belgian resistance, complete with pictures of some of the actual members. (Click here for Part I, Part II and Part III.) You can also visit his blog here.

3 out of 5 stars

12 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

I need emotional depth in a book too. I'm sorry this book was a bit of a disappointment for you.

I'm avoiding writing reviews next week too - so I don't build up a stack of them I'm reading only chunksters for the next few weeks! It is great to get through a few that have been sitting in the pile for too long.

Beth F said...

I plan on posting reviews of my own books or mini-reviews next week.

Nymeth said...

Sorry to hear you were a bit let down, Sandy! The lack of depth and the bad dialogue would have disappointed me too.

bermudaonion said...

The story does sound interesting, but I love good dialogue, so this may not be for me.

Andreea said...

I am sorry to hear that this book didn't meet your expectations! Thanks for an honest review! I hope the next book will be better!

Serena said...

I'm on this tour as well, but in October. I can't wait to read this one for the WWII challenge! LOL even though I've "completed" it.

Literary Feline said...

The details in this book sound fascinating. It's too bad the characters weren't more fully developed. I find that character development can make or break a book often times. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one being that I do enjoy WWII related writing, but it's probably not one I will rush out to buy (like I did with Into That Darkness--thanks to you).

Lisa said...

Sounds like maybe you can tell an engineer wrote the book!

ds said...

Knowing how much you love this subject, I am sorry that this book wasn't up to your expectations. Great review, though.

Iliana said...

I'm glad you were still able to enjoy the book for the new perspective it offered. I do like novels set in the timeframe but admit I don't want to read too much about the war aspects (as far as battles are concerned). That tends to affect me a lot.

Anna said...

I'm on the tour and will be posting my review next week. I'm sorry you were a bit disappointed with the book. Thanks for linking to the guest post on War Through the Generations, and I'll get your review on there soon.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

We've linked to your review at the War blog here: http://warthroughthegenerations.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/reviews-night-of-flames-by-douglas-jacobson/