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Carry Me: A Novel by Peter Behrens

Carry Me: A Novel

by Peter Behrens

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The book is the reason why I'm in book groups. I had never heard of this book, or tis author, Peter Behrens, but after reading the story of how a vision of a landscape that none of the characters had ever seen carried them through the worst o times, I want to read more by this remarkable writer.

The story of Billy Lange and Karin Weinbenner who spend magical pre-World War I summers on the Weinbenner estate on the Isle of Wight. Karin's father is a rich industrialist who was one of the founders of the IG Farben chemical conglomerate and was made a Baron by the Kaiser, and Billy's father is his nautical racing manager. They are separated by the war, but then reunited in its aftermath at the Baron's palatial estate outside of Frankfort Germany. There Billy and Karin become fascinated by Karl May's tales of the American west - specialically the Llano Estacado - the high plains that stretch from West Texas into New Mexico. At first Billy thinks the place is one of fantasy. But then, when looking at an atlas, he discovers that it is a very real place indeed.

That's when I saw the words LLANO ESTACADO strewn across an otherwise empty map of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico and realized that the landscape of Winnetou actually existed, For me this was a great, wonderful shock - like finding God listed in the Frankfort telephone directory.

Billy and Karin grow up to lead very different lives: He as a salesman for IG Farben and she a rather flighty starlet in the German film industry. Their idea of the Llano Estacodo, however, remains with both of them and shines like a beacon as the terrible nightmare of Nazi Germany begins to unfold. Billy is the one who ends up being strong, while Karin has a bad time facing the truth and Billy finds he has to carry her to safety.. How this happens and how they each react to finally arriving at the land of their childhood fantasies makes for a glorious read. ( )
  etxgardener | Dec 12, 2016 |
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"CARRY ME is told from the perspective of Billy, born to a German father and an Irish mother who are employees on the summer estate of the German-Jewish Baron von Weinbrenner on the scenic Isle of Wight. The book's brilliant narrative twines together the love story of Billy and Karin, the baron's free-spirited daughter, during several crucial months in 1938, and their childhood journey, separately and together, leading up to that 1938 moment when their fates hang in the balance. Billy's backstory takes us through England, Ireland, and Germany, where his family is deported as the political situation in 1930s Europe deteriorates. They find refuge at the Weinbrenners' beautiful home outside Frankfurt, where Billy's father becomes the horse trainer in the baron's famous stables, and the teenage Billy reconnects with the seductively devil-may-care Karin. The two ride horses and shoot bow and arrows in the woods, and share the beloved Winnetou novels of Karl May, whose sere West Texas landscape becomes a powerful beacon in their relationship when they reach young adulthood, suggesting a possible path to freedom as the Germany they once knew is deteriorating rapidly. Billy, with his British passport, schemes to get Karin out of the country, and the reader almost can't breathe, waiting for them to board a boat. Poetic, allusive, and profound, CARRY ME is the true story of Peter's father--brilliantly reimagined as a love story, a historical epic, and a powerful meditation on the vagaries of politics and the pull of family"--… (more)

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