Tobi and Ella grew up in East Berlin in the 1980’s. Their childhood memories are much like any child’s memories – influenced by what they see and understand of the world at that point in time, with the potential to drift from what may have actually happened. Now living their own lives in London, Ella is almost obsessed with finding out about her history. She remembers her family’s attempted escape, but doesn’t really remember the events afterwards. Especially what happened to her younger brother Heiko – where is he?
This obsession with her past is fuelled when Ella finds a collection of notebooks left to her from her mother. Ella ends up traveling back to Berlin, tracing the blurred steps of her childhood, in order to unravel the mystery of her mother, her brother and why a painting of three blue horses is so vivid in her memory.
While in Berlin, she is helped by Aaron, an intern for an archive, who painstakingly puts together shredded evidence files so people are able to reclaim their history. He is instantly intrigued by Ella’s quest and soon he is just as involved in deciphering her past as she is. Piece by piece they sort through Ella’s childhood and try to put together her story.
Confession with Blue Horses delves into the idea of the ‘what if…?’ question. What if the truth is too hard to bear? What if you’ve been lied to for most of your life? What if the people you thought you loved and trusted weren’t who they said they were? The ‘what if’ question seems to be what is driving these characters on their own journeys. One particularly poignant scene depicts a conversation between two characters debating the benefits of knowing the whole truth. Or perhaps the whole truth hurts too much, and people don’t actually want to know it? This book explores both sides of this dilemma as it gets closer and closer to solving the mystery of Ella’s missing brother.
This book drew me in from the beginning. It is heartbreaking, and beautiful. Set at a very tumultuous time in history, this is ‘real life’, the stories not shared in the history books. We see love and betrayal. Family and enemies. We love the characters for their complete humanity, their realness and their faults. We are given an insight into family strength and how it endures through even the darkest of times. Poignant, moving and beautifully emotional, Confession with Blue Horses is a must-read.
About the Author
Sophie Hardach is the author of two novels, The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages, about Kurdish refugees, and Of Love and Other Wars, about pacifists during World War Two. Also a journalist, she worked as a correspondent for Reuters news agency in Tokyo, Paris and Milan and has written for a number of publications including the Atlantic, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.