This one’s pretty special


I don’t read a huge amount of fiction; but a fictional account built round people and events I can enjoy.  On another forum I confirmed an analysis of authors read over a two year period.  Only one third female, which this one was.  I was reading it in translation.

In essence it was Boy-Meets-Girl, which I wouldn’t normally go anywhere near.  But it was much more than that.  For it related to a subject I’ve read often.

The reading involved some lengthy sessions – can’t put down; then some short ones as the end approached; short, but frequent – don’t want it to end.

I’m not going to tell you too much.  They meet in 1964, in Frankfurt.  She was a translator; he a witness.  She was from Danzig, long Prussian ancestry, but had moved to Switzerland in childhood.  He was from Vienna, which had been Austrian.

Just out of boyhood he was given a field-grey uniform and sent to the front.  A few years later he had another uniform.  And another name.

She was 15 years younger.  In time they settled, in Germany.  Martial law in Poland took them back, in a truck, laden with relief.  Tower blocks co-ordinated lights at certain windows.  S.  Solidarnosc.  Friends were met.  Old haunts visited.  Memories.

They moved house; further north; into old age.  How do you live with it?

This is one astonishing tale, superbly put together.  This Place Holds No Fear.  Monika Held.




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