Mike Strul’s “A Life Divided” is a suspenseful thriller set in the years of Nazi Germany – one of the darkest areas of European history. The story follows two protagonists: Max Samuels, Jewish entrepreneur from 2002, and Hans Myerhoffer, SS Officer in the 1940s. Both are puppets of destiny.
Max is everything a modern businessman should be. He’s successful, charismatic, shrewd, and comes equipped with a cynical sense of humour. Though he is far from perfect, (he leads a life riddled with adultery) Max is compassionate and resourceful. His life changes forever when he embarks on a spiritual journey to discover his true identity, a journey that leads him to people and places beyond his wildest dreams.
Hans Myerhoffer is the fire to Max’s ice. He is a kind young man moulded beyond recognition by Nazi ideals, and was brought up under the shadow of his father, a heroic recipient of the Iron Cross. Hans is forever “proud to be a German”, and with his glib tongue and quick wits, he always knows the right thing to say. Even if he’s speaking to Adolf Hitler himself. Like Max, Hans has a love life full of intrigue, and his storyline is defined by his inner turmoil. When Hans is sent to work in Auschwitz, he must choose between serving the country he loves – and acting like a human.
This book was very enjoyable; a whirlwind tale of love and treachery that stretched between two eras. With its compelling prose and twisting plot, there was never a dull moment. “A Life Divided” was also rife with history and factual references, organised into concise, informative snippets. These parcels of knowledge interspaced between bouts of description fit fluidly with the rest of the story. The historical nature of “A Life Divided” truly served to illuminate the horrors of Auschwitz and helped reveal the unspeakable atrocities committed in the Second World War. Though slightly hindered by a weak ending, this was still a stunningly powerful read.
The intricate nature of Hans’ personality really drove the book forward. His inner dilemma was compelling, and his twisted view of the world was fascinating to behold. This character was a Nazi Officer, yet he had a big heart and a bigger moral compass. The mechanics of this made “A Life Divided” a captivating book, one that forced the reader to read on without pause or rest bit.
I found that the most intriguing part of “A Life Divided” was the sinister undercurrent that lurked beneath the plotline: the inquiry into spirits and the theory of past lives. This really made me think about reincarnation and I don’t believe that any reader could escape the clutches of this story without pondering on the subject of spirits. This book serves to highlight the possible existence of spirits in our world, and as the story is focused on the subject of a life within a life, it provides readers with a lot of food for thought.
I would recommend this book for those who have a thirst for history. Be it the beginnings of a thirst or a full blown, dehydrated desire, this book will quench any need for knowledge. It is brimming with fact, but it is also brimming with three dimensional characters that constantly clamour for attention. This book sparks emotions, and as it is set against such a terrible backdrop, it summons a certain raw sadness within the reader. The Second World War was a horrific stain on our planet, and “A Life Divided” manages to capture this sentiment with effortless ease. It also forces the reader to delve into the recesses of their spiritual beliefs, and question who they are. As well as who they were.