A somber what-if first novel that vividly explores a possible relationship between the Kommandant of a Nazi concentration camp and a Jewish inmate. The story is first told by the Kommandant, then by Rachel, his mistress, with a concluding chapter purporting to be the official record that calls into question all that has gone before. Maximilian von Walther is an idealistic young man who joins the Nazi party and is soon promoted to Camp Kommandant for his loyal service. He is also a coldblooded sensualist who treats his wife and former mistresses with disdain, but Rachel, the beautiful Jewish woman he selects out of a group of new arrivals at the camp, is different: she makes him feel ``almost happy.'' When the war ends, Walther sends his family to South America and somehow manages to evade prosecution. His past, however, catches up with him: a young man threatens to expose him; another tries to kill him; and The Dead Bodies, a book he believes Rachel has written, is published. Finally, Walther seeks out Rachel in the American countryside, where he tries to defend himself against ``the lies'' in her book. Rachel then takes up the story: she's a promising poet, but as the Germans tighten their control, she gives up her writing to help her elderly parents survive. Unlike Walther, she has no tender memories of their relationship. Raped and brutalized by him, she struggles to survive not only his treatment but the scorn of fellow inmates whom she tries to help. Now, the war over, Rachel is haunted by the past—and an encounter she knows must occur. A provocative exploration of a complex and disturbing relationship—the parameters of which are sometimes overwhelmed by the lyrical intensity of Szeman's writing and vision.

Pub Date: July 14, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-017011-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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