Testament

Testament : Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize

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'Captivating' Heather Morris 'Beautiful' Andrew Miller 'Hugely poignant' Independent 'Moving' Sunday Times

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize * Winner of the Bath Novel Award * Winner of the Harpers Bazaar Big Book of the Year * Shortlisted for the Best First Novel Award *

Of everyone in her complicated family, Eva was always closest to her grandfather. She is making a film about his life. She is with him when he dies.

It is only when she finds the letter from the Jewish Museum in Berlin, hidden in his painting studio, that she realises how many secrets he kept.

As she uncovers everything he endured in the Holocaust - and what it took to learn to live again - Eva is confronted by the lies that haunt her family, and a truth that changes her own identity.

Kim Sherwood's hope-filled first novel is a powerful portrait of survival echoing through the generations; a testament of love, legacy, and all the important questions we leave unasked.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 464 pages
  • 129 x 199 x 34mm | 324g
  • Riverrun
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 178648868X
  • 9781786488688
  • 8,243

Review Text

An important and beautifully written novel by a young writer of immense talent. I was deeply moved. Andrew Miller, author of Pure and Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
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Review quote

Impeccably researched. Sherwood explores memory, identity, survivor's guilt and loss with tremendous acuity. Her skilful interweaving of fact and fiction is impressive and various plot twists keep us guessing until the final pages. Love, in its various forms, is threaded through the novelas a redemptive force. Countless novels depict the horrors of the Holocaust and yet Sherwood's treatment feels original. Given the rise of the far right in Hungary, it is particularly timely. -- Lucy Popescu * New Humanist * Sherwood's prose, poetic and brutal . . . A brilliant debut and an important piece of literature. -- Lyndsy Spence * The Lady * A thing of beauty . . . Where Kim Sherwood will really see you undone is in the small acts of kindness that are candles held against a storm. Those were the moments I had to lower the page and take a breath . . .There are so many lines in this book that stay with you * Van is Reading * Interwoven with the darkness Sherwood dropped little glimmers of hope, of redemption and of love . . . Sherwood's writing is immersive and compelling, filled with emotion and poignancy and I defy anyone not to be affected by the words that they read. Stunning -- Amanda Duncan * My Bookish Blog * Startling, raw and intense, this is a novel which compels you to read it, almost daring you in its quiet delivery, to look away. It is unputdownable and it is beautiful. * Literature Works * Testament unspools in dual narratives - the scarifying past, from Joseph's perspective, and the ripples across time and place it causes in Eva's present. A sensitive and searching novel about Holocaust survivors and their families, it scales a mountain of repressed emotion and feels drawn from life. -- Cameron Woodhead * Sydney Morning Herald * A powerful debut * Image * A rare thing - could easily be a third or fourth novel, so fluidly and gorgeously does it read. Sherwood's characters are finely nuanced and her poetic prose is every bit as exquisite . . . Stunning -- Clare Mulley * Skinny * This ambitious debut novel sensitively grapples [with] the effects of trauma through the generations -- Imogen Woodberry * Literary Review * Every now and then there is a first novel that stops you in your tracks. Testament is one such. It enters dangerous territory - the Holocaust - but does so not only with humanity but a startling control of language, images which surprise and stay in the mind. There is a search at its heart to understand the life of a man but equally to comprehend a past whose echoes still reverberate in private lives, still have the power to disturb public equanimity and challenge the writer. Here is a novelist born whole and entire. * Christopher Bigsby, author of Remembering and Imagining the Holocaust * In her astonishingly assured debut novel, Kim Sherwood explores how we remake ourselves and learn to live with the secrets of the past. But she also reminds us that every portrait of British people is a portrait of the world. A moving, elegant meditation on identity and the masks we must all sometimes wear. * Christopher Fowler * Testament is a masterfully composed and ambitious novel that really grips its reader - intense, full of hard-researched detail and vivid, original language. It is a remarkable first book that avoids the trap of many Holocaust books by understanding the idea of responsibility beyond the original trauma. * George Szirtes, poet and International Man Booker Prize-winning translator of The World Goes On * A remarkably powerful, moving, assured and beautiful novel heralding the debut of a major writer. I couldn't be more impressed. * Robert Drewe, author of Swimming to the Moon * Testament is ambitious, beautiful and brave. A vital act of remembrance of the Holocaust, it's also a deeply involving story that reaches across generations to speak to our own troubled times. How many debuts are actually important? This one is. * Polly Clark, author of Larchfield * A truly heartfelt, stunning debut * Saga * I am absorbed by the delicacy, even the beauty, with which she writes of the trauma of history . . . It's a real pleasure to see Sherwood approaching this theme - to do with how we discover, read, and reread our past - with subtlety, playfulness, and elegiac sadness. * Amit Chaudhuri, Best Books of 2017, Open Magazine * An extraordinary book; sad but optimistic, that enshrines the human spirit.I was so moved by the way it shows blessed creativity thriving even in the depths of hell * Patrick Gale * Sherwood writes with a beauty and bravery that befits Holocaust remembrance and honours the strength of the human spirit. * Press Association * What is exceptional about Kim Sherwood's compassionate, poetic and deeply researched novel, is the way she interweaves the twisted threads of his story . . . Sherwood has taken on the major tragedy of the 20th century with a psychological insight rare in a writer who is not yet 30 . . . Unbearably poignant -- Gloria Tessler * Jewish Chronicle * What a writer. I was totally captivated. A compelling, moving and ultimately uplifting story that delivered on its promise to fill the void left by loss. * Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz * Powerful and moving . . . Hugely poignant, beautifully written -- Rebecca Wilcock * Independent * Moving and vivid -- Leaf Arbuthnot * Sunday Times * Kim Sherwood's poetic fiction looks at history's impact and the morality of forgetting . . . Her writing is elegant and highly effective. This novel explores big ideas - some of the biggest ideas there are - but its power as a work of fiction lies in the personal . . . Sherwood pulls the threads of her narrative together with great skill to deliver a sad and beautiful book. -- Kathleen MacMahon * Irish Times * Achingly powerful, Sherwood's impossibly beautiful prose captivated me from first page to last. Testament tells a fractured history as if it were an intimate memory. A work I won't soon forget * Guy Gunaratne, Booker-prize longlisted author of In Our Mad and Furious City * An important and beautifully written novel by a young writer of immense talent. I was deeply moved. * Andrew Miller, author of Pure and Now We Shall Be Entirely Free *
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About Kim Sherwood

Kim Sherwood was born in Camden in 1989 and lives in Bath. She studied Creative Writing at UEA and is now Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England. Her pieces have appeared in Mslexia, Lighthouse, and Going Down Swinging. Kim began researching and writing Testament, her first novel, after her grandfather, the actor George Baker, passed away and her grandmother began to talk about her experiences as a Holocaust Survivor for the first time. It won the 2016 Bath Novel Award, was longlisted for the 2019 Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 Author's Club Best First Novel Award.
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