Genre: Historical Fiction | Release Date: 5 July 2022 | Standalone | Pages: 416 | Publisher: Random House Australia | Review
When I heard Kate Forsyth was writing The Crimson Thread, I knew we’d be in for a treat. And I was right! This is a historical fiction, about a young Cretan woman (Alenka) and two Australian soldiers (Teddy and Jack) in Crete during WWII. Within the pages of this novel, the threads of multiple storylines have been expertly woven by Kate, into a beautiful (yet heart-wrenching) tapestry. In fact, I was holding my breath throughout most of the book.
The Crimson Thread begins with Alenka’s grandmother telling her the tale of Ariadne and the minotaur; throughout the tale, this mythology continues to create a kind of spell, elegantly refracting and reforming to mean different things to the characters throughout the Nazi occupation of the island. When it turns out the Allied forces can’t save the island from the Nazis, Teddy and Jack (among other soldiers) must go into hiding. Joining forces with Alenka (whom they both like), they form part of a resistance attempting to free Crete. However, it’s not only the Germans they must be wary of… Alenka’s younger brother is a willing spy and traitor for the enemy. Can Alenka’s heart survive the decisions she must make in this war?
Honestly where do I even begin? You probably want more than just me saying “All of it!”
Okay this is a slightly random one, but for my first happiness boost? The art of creation is something really, really important to me. So Alenka’s ability to embroider, and the subsequent way it is used to speak in code? I loved this. Hand-made things are often made with love, and this was no exception. While Alenka had to use Nazi symbols to make it inconspicuous, this was still made with a love for Crete and freedom. In fact, in the Author’s Note at the end of the book, there’s a link to reality that gave me a spine-tingling chill.
I guess just saying ‘Jack’ as a happiness boost wouldn’t mean much, so let me elaborate… Jack is a very wise, very calm (yet empathetic) character. He isn’t showy, unlike his best friend, and I admired him all the more for it. Kate also gave Jack a stutter, which affects him most when his emotions are high.* I wholeheartedly love that Jack was real. And when I say ‘real’, I mean he’s real in his struggles, even as the world is on fire from the Second World War.
Kate makes us live and breathe the effects of this war in Crete. Through her storytelling, we are thrust into a nightmare, with very few lanterns to light our way clear of the German occupation. If not the absolute best historical fiction author you will ever read, Kate is just a cat’s whisker away from becoming your favourite. She’s definitely mine!
I have no downside to this story. There are plot points that shock and hurt the heart of the reader, but during a horrific period of history we should expect nothing less.
Kate Forsyth’s The Crimson Thread is a jewel of a read. The warp and weft of the characters’ lives, against the backdrop of WWII, has created something truly magical; for me, this historical fiction is one of the most inspiring reads of 2022. What Alenka and so many others faced in Crete could break a person. But their fight for freedom persisted, and their tactics were ingenious. If you love historical fiction? Buy this book. In fact, you could buy all of Kate’s historical fiction novels (none of them will disappoint)! But you should definitely buy this one…
You can order via my Amazon link: The Crimson Thread
* Again, for those who don’t know Kate’s own story, you should read her note at the end of the book.