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  • Two brothers and their life in Poland!

    Henryk and Adam Radecki’s are Polish brothers, eldest Henryk is rather serious and younger Adi is much more sensitive. The story follows the brother’s lives and experiences from the early 1920’s and ends in 1954. This time frame covers: The Polish Soviet war with the Russians, the Germans invading the country during WW II and finishes in the Australian Snowy Mountains. The brothers are extremely jealous of each other and it’s a constant issue between them. Henryk is married, a rich and a successful industrialist and sadly he and wife Lucia don't have the large family they both wanted. Adi is a vet, he marries twice and his second wife Elzbieta is younger than him. Henryk thinks his brother rushed into his second marriage, Ela looks very similar to his first wife Kasia, this causes tension and it gets worse when the couple have their second child Stefan. Over the years, the brothers are caught up in difficult situations, have to live with the choices they made, the consequences and kept secrets. The conflict and war in Poland is horrific, both brothers suffer terribly, and so do their families. The Tulip Tree is a story about love, loss, sacrifice, family, loyalty, suffering, secrets and war. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and four stars from me.

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  • Heartbreaking, Heartwarming and Unmissable

    Heartbreaking and heartwarming, this poignant story is mostly set in 1920s Poland, controlled by Germany and then Russia, through 1954 in Australia What struck me most is the hauntingly evocative writing which captured me from the very beginning. The horrendous concentration camp descriptions are vivid and detailed, the emotions raw and full of despair, laid out bare without sheltering. In stark contrast there are also times of joy, love and perseverance. From childhood, two brothers Henryk and Adam Radecki were dramatically different and that difference widened the chasm of jealousy and competition between them which spilled over into adulthood. It meant awkward social situations for them and their wives, Lucia and Ela, as they navigated daily life. Henryk became a wealthy industrialist, Adam a vet. During the war we see how people were treated like intolerable vermin. The two mighty forces Germany and Russia crushed people physically and mentally, especially Polish Jews. Readers are taken through the stories of these men and their wives as well as children Roza and Marek. It is amazing to watch personalities unfold and change under various sets of circumstances and choices made. Historical Fiction and Women's Fiction readers shouldn't miss this. It is not a fluffy gentle book but one so full of depth and emotions it hurts. Unmissable. My sincere thank you to Text Publishing and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this achingly beautiful book.

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  • beautifully written

    3.5★s The Tulip Tree is the second novel by prize-winning Australian author, Suzanne McCourt. Henryk Radecki may not admit it, but since their youth, he has always resented his naïve younger brother, and had disdain for this clearly inferior man. In early 20th Century Russian-ruled Poland, Henryk trains as an engineer, with an overriding ambition to build bridges that is frustrated in the ironworks he helps manage; Adam becomes a veterinarian. Adam’s focus is always the animals, no matter whose, a potential source of grief; Henryk is resourceful, charismatic and influential, and is surprised to find himself coveting what Adam has. The consequences of his impulsive actions are ever present during their lives, the deaths and births, the wars and imprisonment, the subjugation under different occupying forces, the times of plenty and times of extreme hardship. Ultimately, Henryk’s betrayal puts them at the mercy of Poland’s post-war secret police. McCourt’s story spans over fifty years of this extended family and what they endure as their country is ravaged by war and occupation. If her characters are not necessarily wholly endearing, who can say how they would behave the same shoes? In her acknowledgements, McCourt reveals that parts of her novel are inspired by the factual accounts related by her husband’s family. The map and family tree will be appreciated by readers with such a large cast of characters with (multiple) Polish names and their travels. The blurb might be a little misleading, as only the last few pages are devoted to the Australian setting. In a literary environment saturated with twentieth Century historical novels, and with the millions of different perspectives of this time that could be written from, an author needs to overcome the exposure fatigue readers may be suffering, and deliver something original. McCourt gives the reader a beautifully written story about ordinary people in extraordinary times, meeting unanticipated challenges. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.

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