RESISTANCE WOMEN

A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people.

From the end days of the Weimar Republic through the rise of Hitler and the atrocities of World War II, four women boldly defy the Nazis, risking their own lives and those of their loved ones.

Chiaverini’s (Enchantress of Numbers, 2017, etc.) latest historical novel masterfully reimagines the real lives of Mildred Fish Harnack, an American who moves to Berlin to pursue her doctoral degree in American Literature and reunite with her German husband, Arvid; Greta Lorke, a German woman returning from studying abroad at the University of Wisconsin, hoping to make her mark as a writer in the theater world; and Martha Dodd, the politically naïve daughter of the newly appointed American Ambassador to Germany. Linking these women together with the fictional character of Sara Weitz, a Jewish student of American literature, Chiaverini spins a fascinating web of relationships. As the Nazis place increasingly severe restrictions on non-Aryans, Arvid’s cousin Dietrich Bonhoeffer is surveilled for speaking out against the regime, and Mildred finds employment difficult to get, while the jobs that do exist require loyalty oaths to the Nazi Party. Meanwhile, Greta has found love with Adam Kuckhoff, an influential dramaturge with a complicated marital status, and Martha recklessly toys with the affections of both high-ranking Nazi and Soviet officials. The second daughter in the Weitz family to choose a gentile fiance, Sara discovers the anti-Semitism lurking in the hearts of complacent Germans, forcing her to rethink her marriage plans. All four women and their partners find themselves drawn into an underground espionage network—later dubbed the Rote Kapelle by the Nazis—gathering intelligence and connecting with communist cells seeking to destroy the Third Reich. But a single, careless radio transmission could cast everyone into the clutches of the enemy.

A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-284110-0

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW

A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules...

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Sentenced to house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel by a Bolshevik tribunal for writing a poem deemed to encourage revolt, Count Alexander Rostov nonetheless lives the fullest of lives, discovering the depths of his humanity.

Inside the elegant Metropol, located near the Kremlin and the Bolshoi, the Count slowly adjusts to circumstances as a "Former Person." He makes do with the attic room, to which he is banished after residing for years in a posh third-floor suite. A man of refined taste in wine, food, and literature, he strives to maintain a daily routine, exploring the nooks and crannies of the hotel, bonding with staff, accepting the advances of attractive women, and forming what proves to be a deeply meaningful relationship with a spirited young girl, Nina. "We are bound to find comfort from the notion that it takes generations for a way of life to fade," says the companionable narrator. For the Count, that way of life ultimately becomes less about aristocratic airs and privilege than generosity and devotion. Spread across four decades, this is in all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight. Though Stalin and Khrushchev make their presences felt, Towles largely treats politics as a dark, distant shadow. The chill of the political events occurring outside the Metropol is certainly felt, but for the Count and his friends, the passage of time is "like the turn of a kaleidoscope." Not for nothing is Casablanca his favorite film. This is a book in which the cruelties of the age can't begin to erase the glories of real human connection and the memories it leaves behind.

A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility (2011).

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-02619-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

THE UNSEEN

A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.

Norwegian novelist Jacobsen folds a quietly powerful coming-of-age story into a rendition of daily life on one of Norway’s rural islands a hundred years ago in a novel that was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Ingrid Barrøy, her father, Hans, mother, Maria, grandfather Martin, and slightly addled aunt Barbro are the owners and sole inhabitants of Barrøy Island, one of numerous small family-owned islands in an area of Norway barely touched by the outside world. The novel follows Ingrid from age 3 through a carefree early childhood of endless small chores, simple pleasures, and unquestioned familial love into her more ambivalent adolescence attending school off the island and becoming aware of the outside world, then finally into young womanhood when she must make difficult choices. Readers will share Ingrid’s adoration of her father, whose sense of responsibility conflicts with his romantic nature. He adores Maria, despite what he calls her “la-di-da” ways, and is devoted to Ingrid. Twice he finds work on the mainland for his sister, Barbro, but, afraid she’ll be unhappy, he brings her home both times. Rooted to the land where he farms and tied to the sea where he fishes, Hans struggles to maintain his family’s hardscrabble existence on an island where every repair is a struggle against the elements. But his efforts are Sisyphean. Life as a Barrøy on Barrøy remains precarious. Changes do occur in men’s and women’s roles, reflected in part by who gets a literal chair to sit on at meals, while world crises—a war, Sweden’s financial troubles—have unexpected impact. Yet the drama here occurs in small increments, season by season, following nature’s rhythm through deaths and births, moments of joy and deep sorrow. The translator’s decision to use roughly translated phrases in conversation—i.e., “Tha’s goen’ nohvar” for "You’re going nowhere")—slows the reading down at first but ends up drawing readers more deeply into the world of Barrøy and its prickly, intensely alive inhabitants.

A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77196-319-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Biblioasis

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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