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Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story…

Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love…

by Leslie Maitland

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  cavlibrary | Jan 6, 2015 |
Janine Günzberger, born to a comfortably well off German Jewish family in 1923, was separated from Roland, the love of her life, in 1942. Her family left its home in Germany when it became more and more difficult to live under Nazi rule. They went first to the Alsace area of France, and were pushed further west, and finally arrived in America after being detained for several months in a Cuban detention center.

Crossing the Borders of Time is written by Janine’s daughter, a New York Times journalist. As a youngster, the author was fascinated by her mother’s relationship with Roland. As an adult, Ms. Maitland took the occasion of a visit to Europe to inquire about Roland’s whereabouts. And she researched and then wrote her mother’s story. This book is the result.

I’ve read countless books about World War II and knew in general about the suffering of the Jews under the Nazi regime -- and how difficult it increasingly became for them to emigrate from Europe when countries closed their borders to Jewish refugees. Crossing the Borders of Time gives the detailed story of one family’s struggle in a way that sheds light on the consequences of being forced to uproot themselves from the land of their birth … and the indignities small and large they were forced to endure in the process. Ultimately, Janine’s family’s story was one of successful immigration to America.

Crossing the Borders of Time is narrative non-fiction at its best, engaging and hard to put down. And, despite the hardships and tragedies Janine’s family endured, it is at its heart a positive story, a love story. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote NewsieQ | May 5, 2013 |
Interesting memoir written from the perspective of the daughter of the main character. Story of how a young woman survives not only losing her homeland but also the love she discovers after being exiled from Hitler's Germany during World War II. Being Jewish she is forced from her home in Germany, then from France where her family fled and finally gets to America. The story is one of survival. One of "keeping on keeping on".
  CheryleFisher | Feb 22, 2013 |
My first thought about the book was that it was an incredible piece of research about a time I thought I knew everything about, and of which the author proved I had a lot left to learn.
I listened to an audio version of the book; I would not recommend it at all. It would be far better to read this book, to absorb the information and connect with the characters, without the over emotional presentation of the author, who was too close to the story to have hired herself as the reader. She should have had an independent reader who knew how to give life to the words with the tone, expression and timbre of voice, necessary to give life to this important story. In addition, the author’s voice was a hypnotic, monotonous drone which tended to make me sleepy and lose interest in what was otherwise, an exceptionally moving story of suffering and courage, in the face of circumstances most people could not even imagine.
Because her voice was not sufficiently expressive, when new characters were introduced or reintroduced, they were often not quite as memorable as they could have been. The book is long and her reading of it made it tedious at times and difficult to hold the thread. However, her diction was perfect and her use of language and choice of vocabulary was superb, so that when fully engaged, the reader was thoroughly involved with the narrative.
Told from the vantage point of a family that was not interned in a camp, but suffered mightily simply trying to escape from the Nazis and the hardships inflicted upon them, in every country to which they fled, it opens another window on the atrocities committed by a nation and a citizenry, intent on the destruction of those they blamed for their own failures, those who were, essentially blameless. In this book, the focus is specifically on the Jews.
As well as a memoir about the author’s mother, it is also a love story about a young couple, still in their teens, who finding kismet, a magic feeling of love, were then robbed of it by a megalomaniac, who was followed blindly and loyally, by the masses. However, their love lived on, decade after decade, through their marriages and love affairs, which were largely unrequited and unfulfilled.
Tracing and following in the footsteps of her family, relatives and friends, through the travails they suffered, from Europe to Cuba, to the US and places in between, the author leads us on their arduous journey and fills in many details about their travels and encounters that were not expressed as well in other accounts that I have read. This is a thoroughly researched manuscript which traces their lives during this blighted period of history. Although at times they seemed to recover from their misfortunes rather well, and then proceed to live better than one would have expected, their main existence was that of hunted, stateless animals for which no amount of seeming normalcy could cover up.
Because the author makes excellent use of detail and descriptions of the times and the exigencies faced by the families, situation by situation, it is one of the most informative, provocative representations of the years preceding the war, in the early thirties, right up to and through it, until it ends and beyond. The author has captured the emotional temperature of the times including the individual instances and moments of terror and panic experienced by those being ostracized and abused by The Third Reich, those essentially trapped in a prison from which they could not escape and could find no succor from outside sources, those being sought like beasts simply because they were Jews, and this horror was witnessed by others, turning a blind eye, as their neighbors were led away. And, worst, for the most part, their plight was ignored by the world, even by a President, FDR, whom the Jews in America worshipped and respected, without realizing how he had betrayed their brethren.
What gifts did that evil incarnate Hitler, possess to impress so many with his demonic, malevolent designs and beliefs? Whatever it was, we should all pray that no one with that disturbed a vision, ever attains popularity again. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Feb 6, 2013 |
Interesting story of a Jewish family's escape from Nazi Germany. Young lovers are separated during the war and reunite 40 years later. First part was a bit long but after they left France and escaped to Cuba, story got more interesting. Even though I've read many books on the war, I learned allot from this book. ( )
  janismack | Oct 14, 2012 |
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An award-winning former New York Times investigative reporter recounts his Jewish mother and grandparents' harrowing escape from Germany, his mother's 50-year separation from a Catholic Frenchman she passionately loved and the author's efforts years later to reunite them.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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