Motherland / Maria Hummel.
Booklist Reviews 2013 November #1
A deserter in Nazi Germany, on his way back to his family, hid letters from his new wife in an attic wall, where they were discovered decades later. Those letters led his granddaughter, poet and fiction writer Hummel, to explore the experience of Germans who struggled to keep their lives intact during WWII. Motherland follows Liesl, who recently married Frank, a widower, and is now caring for his three sons while he works as a surgeon stationed elsewhere. With separate struggles, including a debilitating illness striking one of the boys, Liesl and Frank's stories unfold alongside each other but are only loosely connected, highlighting the depth of their separation. The Third Reich exerts a menacing, persistent force from the background. In prose that is both spare and heavily laden with the exhausted emotion of hard living, Hummel maintains a claustrophobic undercurrent of fear even when describing mundane daily tasks. Dark and uncompromising, Motherland illuminates a little-examined aspect of the war. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2013 October #3
Fear, grief, and the will to survive fuse in this beautiful novel about the inner life of a German family in the final months of World War II. Inspired by letters written by Hummel's (House and Fire) paternal grandparents and her father's childhood in a war-torn Germany, Motherland occupies a relatively unexplored space in World War II literature, in which political sympathies and oppositions are vastly less important than finding enough tinder to keep the children warm or figuring out when to take an ailing child to the doctor. When Dr. Frank Kappus, a widower, is drafted into medical military service, he leaves behind his three sons with their brand new stepmother, Liesl. She does everything within her power to nurture the two grieving boys and the infant now in her care, including stretching their meager rations into filling meals and assuaging their fears of Allied bombings. The job becomes drastically more difficult when two refugee families are moved into the family's house and six-year-old Ani's constant stomachaches turn into something far more serious. Frank, working as a reconstructive surgeon 250 km away, is confronted daily with horrific battlefield injuries. The humiliations and guilt that each family member endures for the others are described with grace and humanity in this absorbing story. While stunningly intimate, Motherland is expansive in feeling and scope. Extending beyond a simple historical drama, this book is a reminder of the reach of love, how it can blind, and how it can heal. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC