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THE DOWER HOUSE by Malcolm Macdonald


by Malcolm Macdonald

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8061-1
Publisher: Severn House

A group of artists and artisans try communal living at a country house in 1947 England. 

Felix Breit is a well-respected sculptor in prewar Europe. Living in Paris after a fight with his father, he is shocked when he is arrested and sent to Mauthausen. It seems that his grandfather, a second-rate artist and vocal anti-Semite, was actually born a Jew. So Felix is a quarter Jewish, enough for the Nazi death list. Two architects he meets when he’s rescued from Mauthausen invite him to England, where he takes up their offer of an apartment and workshop in a sprawling Hertfordshire mansion. A chance meeting in the Victoria and Albert Museum brings him a lover and career-builder in the delightful form of Faith Bullen-ffitch. Among his neighbors in the building is an American bridegroom of Marianne von Ritter, whose Nazi-loving Swedish parents sent her to work in Germany; an English architect whose French wife despises Marianne; and several other ill-assorted couples. Felix is immensely attracted to Angela Wirth, a Ravensbrück survivor, who worked for the Nazis as a sound recorder. After secretly recording the meeting about the Final Solution, she made a transcript that she sent to the Communists, earning herself a spot in a death camp. 

This series debut from prolific Macdonald (Rose of Nancemellin, 2001, etc.) explores the dynamics of the relationships between the Europeans and their very different English hosts. It’s all heartbreaking and romantic, with intimations of future happiness.