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In a tale that spans two generations, an American living in West Germany travels to Nuremberg, where he meets the man who fired the final--but unrecorded--shot of World War II. By the author of Surrogate City.
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In his second novel (the first not published here), Dubliner Hamilton cannily interlaces a brace of bittersweet, doomed love affairs four decades apart. The narration alternates in time periods--between the close of WW II, when the Germans evacuate a small town in Czechoslovakia, and the 1980's, when an American man returns to Germany and Czechoslovakia to a passionate affair with his best friend's wife and also to search through the past for some missing days--in May 1945. Radio technician Franz Kern suggested to Bertha Sommer, the only German woman working at the Reich's garrison in the village of Laun in occupied Czechoslovakia, that the time had come to think about escape home before the inevitable approach of the victorious Russians and the end of the war. The first try goes awry in the rain, but at the evacuation, Kern and Sommer take to bicycles they've wisely acquired and--among the flow of refugees (from both East and West)--they toil on, finally taking to the hills. In days of fatigue, hope, and sharing, the two become friends and then, in an idyll by a sweet and serene isolated lake, become lovers--while two starving, violent, homeless men watch. A last shot is fired at the height of violence. There will be a homecoming, but passion has been spent. In the 1980's, an American from Vermont renews an affair with beautiful Anke, wife of best friend Jurgen. The couple's Down's syndrome small son is dying of leukemia. Fevered with approaching loss, Anke turns to her old love. In the meantime, the American is searching for...Franz Kern. A shrewd and effective meld of adventure, pockets of dreamy romance and passion, plus a spattering of cynical comments about the ``freedom'' within the united Germany--all touched with a faint dramatic melancholy. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Just as World War II is about to end, a young woman named Bertha Sommer flees on bicycle from Czechoslovakia to her home in Germany, accompanied by Franz, a German officer. This classic story of tension and romance is made new by the fresh moral questions the author raises. Interwoven is another story of a young American in contemporary Germany, of his triangular relationship with a German couple, and of his search in Czechoslovakia, again in upheaval, for the story of Bertha and Franz. This double narrative becomes one story in a very satisfying way. Throughout, the prose is beautifully simple yet emotionally rich. Indeed, this wonderful novel is just brimming with desire, love, and loss and will appeal to a wide readership. Highly recommended.
- Brian Kenney, St. John's Univ. Lib., Queens, New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux (T), 1992. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0374184046