The latest offering from the e-pen of Catherine Czerkawska is a story which has been a long time in the telling. Her surname attests to her Polish origins and it is into the history of her own family that she mines for the core of the narrative. A lot of people have an interest in family history – more so if they have ‘immigrant’ heritage. The desire to connect with such a past is, for most, often restricted to some dull archive search or the construction of family trees. Not for Czerkawska. She has taken elements of her family ‘history’ and used them as the backbone for her epic fiction – the tumultuous relationship across the class divide between a wealthy Polish widow and her Ukrainian farm manager.
In The Amber Heart Czerkawska has crafted an epic love story, set in Poland in the mid nineteenth century. In scale it is reminiscent of Gone With the Wind and Dr Zhivago. It’s an interesting insight into Polish history and the domestic/international disputes between Poles, Ukrainians and Austrians. Yet, while giving us an insight into a period of history and a setting few of us will have any familiarity with, it engages us as it asks us to consider the lives of ordinary people whose real stories are engulfed by the history they live through.
Shot through with shades of Wuthering Heights, passionate obsession is honestly dealt with in this novel. The main characters are flawed – selfish, jealous and inconsistent. Their attitudes to each other, to love and to sex are drawn without compromise. Czerkawska skilfully negotiates the love scenes, which are erotic but never pure ‘erotica’ – they serve the purpose of the novel rather than being placed for titillation. There is passion, brutality and deep emotion on display as we are whisked through the nineteenth century and the long lives and deaths of a panoply of characters.
The Amber Heart is a labour of love, the product of some thirty years gestation, research, rejection and evolution, and it’s a story that will captivate many readers whose interest lies in historical fiction and want something beyond bland historical romance. There is much more information and commentary available at the Amber Heart blog for those who want to delve a little deeper into the story (and the story behind the story.) I recommend a visit to this site before and after you read the novel.
Reviewed by Cally Phillips
The Amber Heart is available in Kindle format
To find out more about Catherine and her other works.
Late breaking news….. You can download BIRD OF PASSAGE FREE today and tomorrow. My recommendation is that you take the free offer AND pay for The Amber Heart at the same time. Having just done a ‘free promotion’ myself I can confidently explain to the readership that it is something we HAVE to do in order to get ‘visibility’ for our ebooks. All authors would prefer you buy their book and we don’t particularly like having to dodge in and out of free offers BUT it’s a necessary marketing tool at the moment otherwise we never get into the light in the Amazon store. So take Catherine’s BOGOF offer and download both books