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 A young, beautiful Jewish widow seeks a new life in the DP camps of postWW II Germany in this historically fascinating but emotionally flat first novel by a Polish-born psychologist (Bringing up a Moral Child, 1985, with Michael Schulman, etc.). Manya Gerson, a Polish nonpracticing Jew and an enthusiastic member of the Communist Party, survived WW II by posing as a Christian and working with her husband for the Underground. Though she and her husband, Joseph, live to see the end of the war, Joseph is murdered a short time later by an anti-Semitic Party member. Numb with grief, Manya, after someone tries to shoot her as well, quits her job as a literature professor, flees the country, and eventually finds herself in an American camp for displaced persons in Allied-occupied Germany. Manya feels as alienated at the camp as she did during the war--a Jew who looks and acts like a Gentile, who has no interest in emigrating to Palestine, who wishes only to continue her quiet life in Europe rather than devote herself to supporting the Jewish cause. Nevertheless, her fellow Jews befriend her, and Manya soon finds herself torn between two fellow residents: a reckless gun-smuggler from Palestine, who's certain to be killed eventually, and a Czech scientist with a job and a secure life waiting for him in Paris. Shuttling back and forth between these two men, Manya herself remains strangely unmoved and unmoving, and her decision to throw in her lot with the passionate supporters of an Israeli state, despite her own lack of enthusiasm for the idea, ultimately fails to convince. Wonderful historical detail, and a potentially gripping plot, but handicapped by a drab, almost academic, style.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-882593-17-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Bridge Works
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997