by Alison Leslie Gold ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1997
In Anne Frank Remembered (1987) and again in a novel about the mad daughter of James Joyce (Clairvoyant, 1992), Gold gave a moving sense of women beset by tragedy. Here, though, the tragic element is subsumed by the notoriety and pettiness of Hitler's bunkermate. A diary purchased at great cost in modern-day Munich by a representative of ""the organization"" (and based in part on a real fragment of Braun's diary from 1935) reveals the whole dreadful tale of relations between ""Herr Wolf"" and ""FrÃ£ulein Effie."" The two meet in a Munich photo store in 1929: he an older, rumpled, but clearly important customer, she a pretty girl who parts her legs to give him a better look when she sees him eyeing her on the stockroom ladder Their subsequent encounters are as intermittent as they are perverse, but by the time he becomes Chancellor, in 1933, Effie has a clear place in his life. Hitler is never seen with her in public, but he buys a villa for her in Munich, she's a regular guest at his fortress in the Alps, and Hindenburg's old Chancellery apartment in Berlin becomes her own. Meanwhile, Effie soothes her bruised ego at his slights and infidelities by shopping endlessly and by obsessive workouts on the uneven parallel bars--but she also practices her vindictiveness regularly As war begins, then as the tide of battle turns, she sees less of him than ever, so vermouth and sleeping pills are added to her routine Her devotion undimmed, she returns from relative safety in Bavaria to join him as bombs rain down on Berlin, gaining in the final days her fervent desire to be not his Fraulein but his Frau. To turn such a brutish and banal a life into compelling fiction would require inspiration unimaginable. It's little reflection on the author's writerly skill, then, that her character study--sensitive and vivid though it is--comes up short.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997
Page Count: 226
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997
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