Review of Passage from England, a memoir by Frank Zajaczkowski

January 13, 2015

This is a poetical and nostalgic book. This is also an historical and biographical book. This is, above all, the story of a life, the life of a child who, during the postwar, witnessed the self destruction of his father, a Polish who worked in England as a British Air Force soldier after the Poland government settled temporarily in this country during the Second World War. This is “Passage from England, a memoir”, the book written by Frank Zajaczkowski, the son of the Polish and former war veteran Zdzislaw Zajaczkowski, called Jack.


For Polish people, the end of the Second World War was as dramatic as the same war.  After escaping the Nazi persecution, the family of Frank Zajaczkowski hoped to find a new future in England, but a tide of migration (from Poland and other countries involved in the war) made their living conditions very hard. In this dark and desperate framework, it was 1956, aboard of a ship called Queen Elisabeth, the Zajaczkowski family begins a journey across the Ocean Atlantic for moving to America.

The arrival in America, in a Los Angeles district called Tarzana, marks a new life for this family, but it is only an illusion because the father of Frank keeps in his heart all wounds and griefs caused by the war and by the obsession to meet back Nazi people around him.

To turn off the fear, the man gets drunk, by beginning a sad transformation where he ends up to be only a problem for his family and not a support for the needs of his wife and his children. In Passage from England, the author shows the extreme consequences of war, like the ones that affected his father: alcoholism, poverty, fear, desperation, desire to live in a better place. In fact, the new place where the Zajaczkowski family lives, is not the best in this life.

Frank and his sister Mary discover that some neighbours are Nazi and the weather in Tarzana is very hot during the summer. The rooms are always filled with heat that chokes the house and the soul of these tender children. In this touching description, Frank Zajaczkowski adds an extraordinary narration technique: the flashback. In each chapter of the book, indeed, the author tells about his life during his childhood and what he has done during the adult age to discover the true personality of his father.

For this purpose, Frank Zajaczkowski begins a journey in England with his loved wife, Netty, namely Annette, to understand how a war can really change the soul of a man! The family of the author, in fact, lived in Lincoln, England, the country of Frank’s mother. In a double literary journey, the author builds a memoir enriched of good written English, poetic descriptions and poignant pictures about his family. The pictures are contained in the middle chapters of the book.

The words of Frank, instead, are a flow of hope and optimism even when he remembers sad and painful moments about his childhood, such as the death of Nanny, his grandmother, and the humiliations that he endured when the drunk father had heated arguments with the wife Frances. But the alcoholism doesn’t prevent the birth of a new son, the little Michael.

Because of the growing violence of Jack Zajaczkowski, other vicissitudes risk to endanger the teenage years and the adult age of Frank. At the end, the author arrives in Saint Thomas, a wonderful place in the Caribbean Isles where he lives still today together with his wife. To describe this place, Frank Zajaczkowski uses amazing words that seem more than poetry. Their sound enters into the mind and strokes the soul.

For this reason and not only, Passage from England, a memoir, is a biographical book which deserves being read. Another reason is also that this book is the greatest proof that the bad events not always lead people to get wrong: the monsters don’t always create monsters. Frank, indeed, is a talented and very appreciated author, while his elder brother John became an actor. With this book, every reader and person may come back to hope despite troubles, sufferings and other difficulties which may always occur in life. Frank won his battle with the past. Following his example, everybody can do the same!

The author also used the press release service: read the press release and buy the book!


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