This book may be viewed as a history lesson, a love story, an ethno-political dissertation or an account of survival of adversity. In fact it is all of those and more. Above all, it reminds us of a shameful episode in Canadian history, largely forgotten today except by Canadians of Ukrainian background. The protagonist, Taras and his fellow detainees certainly undergo the trials of Job, made particularly painful by the fact of their total innocence of any wrongdoing or evil intent. Their only sin was to have been born in a land that was occupied and ruled by Austria, a country to which they certainly bore no allegiance. This injustice was surely even more unconscionable than the WW2 internment of Japanese immigrants. It's likely that the politicians and even the general public of that era would deny that the prisoners were as badly treated as the book portrays and they would almost certainly claim that the extreme punishment meted out to Taras and his associate never happened. No matter; the very fact of their interment and forced labor without any justification is cause enough to condemn the actions of the authorities of the day.
Quite apart from all that, the author creates a set of entirely believable and likable characters and tells a very fine love story that held my attention right to the end.
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