Many stories that take place during World War II come from an American point of view, but few of them are set in Finland. With a unique setting and characters that are easy to fall in love with, Ulla Jordan’s LOST GROUND, is a compelling read and offers a truly realistic depiction of the horrors that took place during the war.
LOST GROUND is told from three different characters: Tina, a woman stuck at the home front worrying about her soon-to-be fiancé, Paul; Tom, the American journalist who develops a close relationship with Tina; and Paul himself, who describes the appalling and heartbreaking realities of being a soldier. The three become intertwined, and their stories are told flawlessly with gorgeous poetic language. One description of the war includes lines like, “The fires still burned, orange fountains in the night, fireworks of a macabre carnival,” that help bring the setting to life. As the characters (and the entire country of Finland) struggle to survive and hold on to hope, Jordan plays to all of the reader’s senses (“a strange shuffling noise scratched the silence, the sound of hundreds of pairs of feet, unseen walkers on their way out of the city.”)
From the very first sentence, LOST GROUND incites curiosity with foreshadowing that the events of the war will change everyone involved. From there, descriptive passages about everything from a hotel lobby to a city ravaged by bombing raids creates a fully realized setting. One of the most powerful aspects of the novel are the moments when the war specifically impacts each character – whether it’s Tom venturing into the field to see frozen corpses left over from a battle or Tina’s quest to find food once the rations have run out. Those who did not experience the war firsthand can appreciate the crushing blow the events caused during the time period. Although some readers might not understand all of the references (like a passing mention of Mrs. Simpson or Wallis Simpson who became the Duchess of Windsor), there are enough explanations for pretty much any reader to understand and get a good grasp on the big players of the era.
LOST GROUND is masterfully written with a no-holds-barred depiction of war and characters that are undeniably fascinating.