From the Life in Israel blog:
Illegal Journey is a historical novel, which in my book is an immediate plus. You get to read an enjoyable story while learning about a point in history at the same time. And when the book is written well, when the history is portrayed and the story is riveting, then it is just a great book. As is Illegal Journey.
Illegal Journey is set in Europe, Palestine and eventually Israel. It describes, through its story, the history of illegal immigration from post-war Europe into Palestine. While I am not aware of this story actually having happened – as far as I can tell it is fiction – but it does show what the Jewish survivors of the concentration camps had to go through to get to Palestine, and how they were often turned away by the British.
In Illegal Journey, a gentile in Switzerland becomes aware of a group of Jews in a hospital recovering from what they suffered in the concentration camps. He was so shocked by what he saw that he “adopted” this group and found ways to help them. Eventually this led to his devising a plan to help them sneak into Palestine. Peters drops everything and commits himself completely to this project and becomes very close with the entire group. He even decides to join them in going to Palestine, and so he does.
I don’t want to give away much of the story, because while it is a historical novel, it is also fiction and I don’t want to ruin the story part of it for you.
The only part of the book I was disappointed in was the ending. I thought the book finished off kind of weak, for what was such a good story.
The book is a good read – the story, as I said, is riveting. You get caught up in the characters and the relationships. Because the story is so good, it is also a fairly quick read. Once I started reading it, I hardly put it down and finished it pretty quickly.
Besides for the novel part of it, the historical part of it was fascinating. I never previously really read much about the illegal immigration period. Sure, I’ve read the basics and I know the main historical points, but Illegal Journey gives a much deeper look at the entire period in history, how people snuck in, how the British tried to prevent it, employing spies through European ports, disabling boats with explosives, politics, maritime lands and searches, etc. I really enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel and found myself learning a lot about pre-State Palestine.