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

RESISTANCE WOMEN

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 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

THE UNSEEN

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. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An elegant, pithy performance by a first-time novelist who couldn’t seem more familiar with his characters or territory.

RULES OF CIVILITY

Manhattan in the late 1930s is the setting for this saga of a bright, attractive and ambitious young woman whose relationships with her insecure roommate and the privileged Adonis they meet in a jazz club are never the same after an auto accident.

Towles' buzzed-about first novel is an affectionate return to the post–Jazz Age years, and the literary style that grew out of it (though seasoned with expletives). Brooklyn girl Katey Kontent and her boardinghouse mate, Midwestern beauty Eve Ross, are expert flirts who become an instant, inseparable threesome with mysterious young banker Tinker Grey. With him, they hit all the hot nightspots and consume much alcohol. After a milk truck mauls his roadster with the women in it, permanently scarring Eve, the guilt-ridden Tinker devotes himself to her, though he and she both know he has stronger feelings for Katey. Strong-willed Katey works her way up the career ladder, from secretarial job on Wall Street to publisher’s assistant at Condé Nast, forging friendships with society types and not allowing social niceties to stand in her way. Eve and Tinker grow apart, and then Kate, belatedly seeing Tinker for what he is, sadly gives up on him. Named after George Washington's book of moral and social codes, this novel documents with breezy intelligence and impeccable reserve the machinations of wealth and power at an historical moment that in some ways seems not so different from the current one. Tinker, echoing Gatsby, is permanently adrift. The novel is a bit light on plot, relying perhaps too much on description. But the characters are beautifully drawn, the dialogue is sharp and Towles avoids the period nostalgia and sentimentality to which a lesser writer might succumb.

An elegant, pithy performance by a first-time novelist who couldn’t seem more familiar with his characters or territory.

Pub Date: July 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-02269-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

more