In Timm's hands (Headhunter, 1993, etc.), how curried sausage became a popular street food makes for a perfectly charming novel that looks back at the end of WW II. It's a tall--and a humble--tale, involving love, war, resourcefulness, trickery, and an accident on the stairs, all made believable by the skillful Timm and his unnamed narrator, who makes his way to a retirement home to call on one Lena BrÅcker, whom he fondly remembers from his Hamburg childhood as having operated a food-stand selling curried sausages. Was this same Lena BrÅcker really the first inventer of the dish? Over seven days and seven visits from our narrator, the now-aged Mrs. BrÅcker (like Homer, she's become a blind creator, even knitting a sweater as she spins her yarn) tells her wonderful story, not the least of it having to do with her 27-day romance (starting April 29th, 1945) with a 24- year-old naval NCO named Bremer, whom she meets at the movies one rainy evening. After spending the night together in her apartment (her husband is a two-timer and cad, and, besides, he's gone), Mrs. BrÅcker (she's 40) suggests, putting it very simply, that the young man--well, could stay for a while. Desperate for manpower at war's end, the Germans have transferred Bremer to anti-tank duty and certain death, both of which he avoids by staying with the warm, generous, resourceful Mrs. BrÅcker. And as for the rest? Suffice it to say that, among other things, Mrs. BrÅcker is a good cook (a canteen manager, she's wizardly at rounding up scarce food); that her lust for life and unerring sense of right and wrong put her somewhere between the Wife of Bath and Anna Magnani; and that things work out as they sometimes do--in ways, this time, that you might feel like weeping for. A small, perfect feast: full of life, heart, spirit, and laughter, all seasoned delicately with sorrow and hope.