An elegant, haunting new novel from the award-winning author of In the Cut and The Whiteness of Bones-set in Germany on the eve of World War II, the story of one woman's journey of self-discovery as a continent collapses into darkness.
Beatrice, a young Irish Protestant lace maker, finds herself at the center of a fairy tale: she is whisked away from her humdrum life by a mysterious countess to join the Berlin household of the Metzenburgs, an enchanting, aristocratic couple whose vast holdings of art include a priceless collection of lace. But as Beatrice is introduced to the highly rarefied world of affluence and art collecting, the greater drama of Germany's aggression begins to overshadow it. Retreating with Beatrice to their country estate, the Metzenburgs do their best to ignore the encroaching war, until the realities of hunger and illness, as well as the even graver threats of Nazi terror, the deportation and murder of Jews, and hordes of refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army begin to threaten their very existence.
In Moore's (In the Cut) latest novel, objects have complicated lives-they're bought, collected, requisitioned, buried, stolen, sold, and bartered-and so do people. It's Germany during WWII, and strange and awful occurrences are becoming common. Even the rich and politically connected Felix and Dorothea Metzenburg can no longer guarantee their safety-or that of Beatrice Palmer, the book's narrator, who, in a series of unlikely circumstances, has come from Ireland to work for them. The bulk of the story takes place on Dorothea's country estate, to which the family, with 23 wagons of Felix's art and objects, retreat when Berlin becomes untenable. There the war switches between a distant rumor on illegal radio broadcasts and, with food shortages, disappearances, and bombings, a reality. It becomes clear that Felix's moral and aesthetic sensibilities will not allow him to cooperate with the National Socialist state. Although the book starts slowly, once we're accustomed to Beatrice's measured style, she's an appealing, sometimes touching guide to a world where luxury and devastation coexist; friends may be spies; a Cranach painting means less than the potatoes it buys; all kinds of refugees seek safety on the estate; relationships change; and safety, although not love, is illusory. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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September 17, 2012
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