An eccentric, quickslivery and rather surprising Hitler-alive seriocomic novel from accomplished British writer Elliot (The Italian Lesson, Secret Places, A State of Peace, etc.). It's the spring of 1953 and England seems to be emerging from its profound postwar torpor--young Elizabeth is about to be crowned, and Hilary is dogging his way up Everest. But at Ilse Lamprey's boardinghouse in a northern university town, it's rather depressingly business-as-usual. Ilse is a refugee Illegally in England; her boarders are displaced persons from Germany and Eastern Europe. There's Janusz, the handsome young Pole too shy to come out of his room; Babakov, the gruff Russian who waits hand and foot on the surly Ilse; and the mysterious Dr. Gruber, an amnesiac vegetarian who lives in the attic. The only bona fide Britisher in the house is the gentle and beautiful Elenora Flitch, a virginal spinster university-teacher who longs obsessively for a lover. Into this fairly volatile mix comes a sinister refugee named Vera; she's revealed to be a murderess of cats (300!) and one businessman (who mistook her for a run-of-the-mill prostitute). More importantly, she is found to be blackmailing the reclusive and vegetarian Dr. Gruber. When one adds ""Schickel"" to the ""gruber,"" it comes clear: it is the Fuehrer himself raving deliriously in the attic. How he got there and what becomes of him will be Ilse's tale. And both Eleonara and Janusz find tree love--while the mad Vera escapes to a nunnery and plans further acts of vengeance. Far-fetched but delightful, especially the wonderfully nasty Ilse (""Could I be losing my venom?"" she worries to herself) and the truly wicked Vera.