This is a four star book. Recently another GR friend rated this with three stars, and to be honest, I was flabbergasted. "HOW CAN YOU NOT BE MOVED BY THIS BOOK?" zinged through my head?! I will try and explain without giving spoilers. First of all, if you are the kind of person, like me, that highly values straight talk, and talk that does not shy away from ANY subject - sex, love, cruelty, motherhood, lying, corruption, guilt and survival - then this is a book for you. Edith will say "Now remember this....." to jolt you. She will say "Now maybe you are questioning how I could ....." and then she explains so clearly and so succinctly that what before seemed strange is know dazzingly obvious. The fantastic prose hits you from the first page. Then as you get to know Edith/Grete you are drawn into her moral dilemas, the choices she made. When I picked up this book, honestly, I had a completely different view of Edith. I was a bit disgusted at the thought of a Jewish woman who survived the holocaust by marrying a Nazi officer..... I thought she was self-centered. Well, she isn't. Not at all. She is a wonderful, kind person who suffered terribly during the war. Terribly. She never lost her integrity. Never. You get completely the wrong idea of Edith by reading that title. The title IS perfect, but you have to read the book to understand. This book is about people and how we all react differently when shit hits the fan. You come to empathize with Chrstl, Elisabeth, Pepi, Werner, Doctor Maria Nierderall, Klothilde, and I shouldn't stop here b/c the list goes on and on. Not all of these people acted admirably, but what they did you come to understand. That is why I used the word empathy! This book focuses on how people behave and why they behave as they do, not delivered as a lecture, but simply by throwing a spotlight on them. This is a book about the holocaust, but don't think it is devoid of humor. I promise you, people are just so unbelievably funny! What they come up with is utterly amaing and absurdly funny and wonderful! Another very interesting issue is what Edith did with her education as a lawyer/ judge. How it meandered AFTER the war. To tell you would be a spoiler, but it is a very interesting point. How other Jews and Germans have reacted to Edith after the war is also revealing. I could go on and on. Instead - read the book.
Through page 153: Most people do not have the courage to be kind. Most often kindness doesn't demand courage, but sometimes it does; and then who is strong enough, brave enough to jeopardize their own security for another human being? Such people are to be found on BOTH sides of any conflict. In this case, some were Nazis others were gentiles and others Jews. Finally, someone, a complete stranger, a Nazi, reaches out and helps Edith - with explicit, exact instructions, devoid of emotion.
"He turned away. The interview was over. I had never listened so hard to anything in my life. Every word was printed on my mind."
"He did not wish me luck. He did not ask for money. He did not say good-bye. I never saw him again."
"He saved my life."
With these words you see how this author expresses herself in telling her story.
Through page 147: I like this book very much. Look at Edith's chin on the front cover. Look at her eyes. Her chin shows her relentless will to get through this mess. Her eves hold something back. Her strength is visible, but it is at the same time cautious. She is back in Vienna and alone. In all senses. She doesn't know where she can sleep or where she will get her next meal. People who were close to her are gone. And those who remain, like her boyfriend? Well read her tale. I have noted many sections that I should quote, but it is terribly difficult to pick just one. They show that she is a person like all the rest of us simply trying to get through this mess, at the same time retaining an ounce of integrity. This book shows how many different people behave when put in a "tight spot". Or should I say when stamped on? Each behaves differently, some better than others, but the focus is on each idividual behavior. Unpretentious writing from start to finish. You can relate to her thoughts and experiences
Through page 23: I love this, absolutely love this book. Why? Well it is all in the ability of the author to write anchanting prose. Very simple, very down-to-earth and with humor. The following lines are from page 9:
"have you heard that the Russians are cannibals? Have you heard that they eat their young?"
"And do you believe that?"
I took a chance. "Some people do, sir. But I think if the russians ate their babies, there would not be so many Russians as there apparently are."
He Laughed. He had warm humorous and a gentle manner. He even reminded me a little of my grandfather.....
This is a memoir about a Jewish woman who survived WW2. How? By being the wife of a Nazi officer!
Before starting: I Will return to reading about Armenia, but first this since Maude and I want to read a book together. :0) So many have siad this must be read. And I always love memoirs.