The Scent of Lilacs

Written by Haydn Corper

During the last days of Berlin, 1945, we follow five different people, each with different loyalties and different roles in this tense story: Tanya, a Russian with German nationality; John Marlow, an Englishman fighting the Reds for a Finnish outfit; Walter, a young German aspiring to the Hitler Youth; and the brothers Leonid and Cheslav, soldiers in the advancing Red Army.

This is not a military war book, but an examination of people, their feelings and reactions to the events that unfold around them. It is not an action novel, apart from a number of sporadic skirmishes, but the tension builds up slowly and menacingly through the author’s craft of description and observations—and this is masterfully done—all characters and the settings are totally believable. We are left at the end wondering as to the exact fate of each major character, as the author leaves us with a number of options.

Recommended for those who enjoy a human study rather than an all-out, action-packed war story.