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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Through Forests and Mountains by Margaret Walker is a military novel with strong historical underpinnings. Set in Yugoslavia in 1941, the story follows Anton Marković, a submarine captain in the Yugoslav navy, after a propeller accident leaves him crippled and left behind as the German and Italian armies attack. He suffers an infection and nearly dies, and joins the Montenegrin partisan group where he meets Mara, the daughter of the Yugoslav ambassador to Britain. He is attracted to her, but she isn’t easy to get. She is a woman whose heart longs for someone else. She likes Tito and has a possessive ex-boyfriend who is hunting her. As the group moves from place to place, Anton is keen on Mara who doesn’t pay him much attention, but when she disappears, Anton can’t stand the thought of losing her. Together with Nikola, they set out to find her. What happens next is a face to face confrontation with Miroslav. But who will have Mara?
Anton is a character that I liked. An awkward man who is more connected to machines than to people and who feels a strong attraction for a woman after suffering a tragedy at war. I was very keen to see what will become of him and Mara. The romance is beautifully well written and I loved the way the author writes about the emotions of the characters. The suspense is strong and it allows the reader to follow the characters as they evolve through difficult situations. The story is beautifully told and the themes of war, love, patriotism, and friendship are well developed. Margaret Walker has a unique gift for setting and the historical elements of the setting are intelligently crafted, allowing readers a feel of WWII while exploring the politics of the war at the time. Through Forests and Mountains is an adventure in wartime and a story that captures the austerity of life during the German and Italian invasion. It features strong characters and a love story that progresses to a delightful final scene.