The Book Accumulator lent me this one – he’s a big fan of Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (Funder’s first book – a real breakthrough work of non-fiction) but I was not convinced, so I was very sceptical about whether I would enjoy this. I’m also over Nazi Germany. I studied it 6 times at school. (Once, maximum twice is enough)
But I’m 82 pages into this and I will keep going for now. The main voice, Ruth’s, is both intriguing in the “present” and the past. In the present she is an elderly woman living in Bondi, struggling with the start of dementia and the close-minded mentality of her carer. In the past, she is a young woman swept into the revolutionary movement in Munich in 1917-1920, trailing around after her glamorous older cousin Dora. This particular part of German history is not a part I know much about (my history classes always swept from the Treaty of Versailles through hyper-inflation very quickly and into the Great Depression).
The other voice, Toller’s, irritates me – the story works well from Ruth’s perspective and is already split into past and present there. To intersperse with his perspective, in very late 30s or early 40s New York, to where he has fled Nazi persecution, breaks up the flow even more and it rankles. His narrative is sad, and worth telling, but this could have been separated out in the way in which Elizabeth Wein separates the narratives in Code Name Verity.
While Ruth has the higher share of the narrative, I’ll stick with it.
I do enjoy reading “second-hand” copies of books – this one comes with TBA’s annotations (which are very helpful for pointing out the quotes I might like to use in my final review!). There is something pleasantly communal about a book in which someone else has left a light smattering of marginalia! (not that I would ever deface a book so).
Anyone out there read it? Am I going to be disappointed?