Testament by Kim Sherwood
Sherwood's first novel is a stunning new take on the horrors of the Holocaust
In Kim Sherwood's debut novel we find that rare thing – a work which could easily be a third or fourth novel, so fluidly and gorgeously does it read. Testament tells dual stories about two blood relatives which intertwine across separate timelines; the self-named Silk, an eminent artist who survives the Holocaust and keeps silent to preserve sanity and, later, his granddaughter Eva, discovering everything he kept hidden following his passing and agonising over the responsibility she now holds over how the world will remember him.
Through her journey, both physical and mental, to find answers to all her questions and come to a decision, we as readers are invited to explore the many elements that come together to form memories and impressions of people; we consider the many different angles from which survivors view things in order to cope (or otherwise). The regular switching between the plotlines brings a definite sense of movement, and in laying the information in a non-chronological form ensures the last crucial detail falling into place at the very end for maximum effect.
Sherwood's characters are finely nuanced and her poetic prose is every bit as exquisite and torturous as the events, people, relationships and objects it illustrates. A stunning, extremely sensitive take on one of the most difficult topics in human history.