The author in
At the first step into our free homeland
I knelt in the bushes with a bowed head,
While behind a rocky outcrop
the Partisans rested their rifles in their hands.
Hey, free woods! Hey, free mountains!
My native land.
I caress you, naked cliffs,
Full of zeal and joy,
Like the son returning home to his mother.
Josip Cazi, 1941
Anton Marković didn’t believe in a girl with a gun.
How could the Partisans win this war with only farmers, labourers and women for soldiers? The experiment was ridiculous. He should have stuck to the ships he knew and not be in a forest in Bosnia with a rifle in his hands, and a bullet in his head, and a woman by his side cackling like a throttled fowl in some dazzling display of hormonal triumph.
Tito had allowed the girls from the villages to serve in combat roles, and Mara was all in favour of anything innovative for women. She had just shot her first fascist, and her face beneath Anton’s was exuberant, breathless and beautiful.
He was at war, and clearly on more fronts than he anticipated. But could he save Mara from that brilliant and psychotic fascist she could not shoot?
From the forests and mountains of Bosnia to the White Cliffs of Dover,
the Nazis and the Ustasha battle the most successful resistance movement in Occupied Europe.
Death to Fascism!
Reviewed by Christian Sia for READERS’ FAVORITE, 2020 Novel Competition
‘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 read 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.
HeenaRathore Pardeshi, the Reading Bud
Through Forests And Mountains by Margaret Walker is a beautifully written story about personal emotions and difficult situations (socially and otherwise.)
This book reads more like an experience than a story and takes the readers to the historical settings of upheaval in Yugoslavia in the year 1942. The historical backdrop is beautifully articulated and I was really impressed by the author penchant for details. The characterisation is brilliant and I loved the main leads, Anton and Mara, as well as the cast of secondary characters. All the characters had so much to offer to the story and the build-up of the plot, that it made the book a rich combination of a solid plot with equally strong characterisation.
This book covers a wide spectrum of emotions - from one's love for their country and friendships between individuals to blossoming romantic relationship between the leads (that is built slowly and steadily.) Overall, this book is a highly engaging and entertaining read and I would recommend it to all readers, especially readers who love historical fiction works.
N.N. Light's Book Heaven
Through Forests and Mountains is a riveting tale of World War II not often told.
It’s 1942 and fascism is sweeping through Europe like the plague. Many strong men have gone off to war, leaving farmers and women to fend for themselves. Mara is one of those women and she is thrilled when she is allowed to fight back with a weapon. When she meets Anton, she’s not sure what to make of his scowl. He’s got a bullet wound in the head but maybe it is more than that. As they travel through the forests and mountains in Yugoslavia, one thing is certain: death to fascism by any means necessary.
The Germans were unstoppable until Tito in Yugoslavia came up with a brilliant plan. Margaret Walker takes us inside one of the most successful resistance groups who thwarted the Nazis at every turn. While this is historical fiction, Through Forests and Mountains reads like a World War II memoir. Everything from the setting to the beautiful descriptive narration to the characters adds immense enjoyment to the story. The stark contrast between Anton and Mara sets the tone for the book. The plot moves at a good pace. Margaret Walker must have done a lot of research and it shines in Through Forests and Mountains. I learned quite a bit from reading and look forward to reading more from Margaret Walker. If you’re a historical fiction reader, you’ll quite enjoy Through Forests and Mountains. If you’re looking for a fresh viewpoint on World War II, pick up Through Forests and Mountains. Highly recommended!
Through Forests And Mountains beautifully integrates the complexity of the WW2 Yugoslavian " Resistance " fighters in their partisan fight (for freedom from Nazism & Fascism ) with romance, the role-of-women, and even a humourous perspective on human frailties.
Highly - researched and detailed to the social, health and military settings of 1942, this novel provides much insight into the complexities of mid-century demographics. Dedicated reading of this novel is richly rewarded ...especially from an Australian context. "Young Adults" and older members of the Yugoslav "diaspora" alike will appreciate this book...especially as a rich preparation for the sequel. Frequent references to the introductory map is perhaps useful...and do enjoy learning fragments of Serbian language from this complex Bosnian- Serbian region.
Susie Helme. ReedsyDiscovery.com
A heroic story, gorgeous, unclichéd writing, reflecting superb understanding of the history.
The pronouncements of the partisans on the two extreme ends of the political spectrum, communists and fascists, are credible; this evidences the author’s understanding of both and is something that is hard to do. The scene where Mara first encounters the villagers of Drvar is astounding!
We learn the complicated history of wartime Yugoslavia, fed bit by bit into the dialogue. This is very artful. Despite the complexity of the history, the plot is not too complex to follow, and time is taken to appreciate the horrors of war.
Death to fascism; freedom to the people!