THE AWAKENED by Zoe Oldenbourg
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The World is Not Enough and The Cornerstone established this young writer in the forefront of historical novelists, with her specialty life in the Middle Ages. Now with The Awakened she proves that she is not to be pigeonholed, for here is a moving and significant contemporary novel, set in Paris during the phoney war"". There is an overwhelming drive that has almost a classic heritage in Greek tragedy here; and, at the same time, there is a compassionate, perceptive human love story that recalls the particular appeal of Eric Knight's This Above All. Two uprooted families, one with a Jewish scholarly background, the other a Russian military background, come into focus through Stephanie, whose father has become a Catholic convert, and Ilya, wh Russian temperament injects endless self searching, tormented pride. They fall hopelessly in love; Stephanie's father, demanding in his devotion, rejects Ilya completely and ruthlessly. Stephanie, torn in her loyalties, betrays her rict upbringing, goes away with Ilya, and then leaves him ultimately to rejoin her father, when Ilya refuses the grudging agreement to their marriage, for reasons Stephanie cannot understand. Then comes the threat of invasion, the internment of German Jews, separation beyond their control. Ilya is taken prisoner; Stephanie, with occupation, escapes to the south of France, to bear her child alone. This ending, on a note of stark tragedy, leaves the reader free to write his own sequel. But the intense and all-pervading impression is one that seems to preclude wishful thinking. Ilya and Stephanie remain victims of loyalties to lost causes and hopeless love. A powerful and unforgettable novel.

Pub Date: June 7th, 1957
Publisher: Pantheon