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Hester Among the Ruins

by Binnie Kirshenbaum

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Born in New York in 1963, historian Hester Rosenfeld--very American and marginally Jewish--goes to Munich to research the life of Heinrich Falk and becomes his mistress. Born in Berlin in 1943, raised in the ruins of defeat by a generation of "murderers and cowards," Professor Falk is neither infamous nor famous--he is simply the German Everyman. Hester believes his life story could make for an important contemporary historical document--kitchen table history. Heinrich is married (four times, twice to his current wife) and has four daughters. But madly in love with Hester, adultery is nothing new to him. As he assists her in her note-taking--about him and his family, about German history--she often suspects Heinrich is covering up something. Was his brother really a Werewolf, a Nazi militiaman who vowed to continue fighting after the war's end? What kind of gas company did his mother work for? And what exactly did his father do during those years?Yet Hester has her secrets, too, and the longer she remains in Germany the harder it is to keep them concealed. As she uncovers more of the Falk family's possible connection to Nazism, she finds herself reexamining her feelings about her own parents and her complicated attraction to Heinrich. As the lovers' intimacy deepens beyond the erotic, each suspects the other of hiding something about the past.Called a "rare and remarkable writer" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham, Kirshenbaum has written a searing novel about history's unforgettable legacy and its continuing impact.… (more)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Binnie Kirshenbaumprimary authorall editionscalculated
Reimann, PatriciaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Born in New York in 1963, historian Hester Rosenfeld--very American and marginally Jewish--goes to Munich to research the life of Heinrich Falk and becomes his mistress. Born in Berlin in 1943, raised in the ruins of defeat by a generation of "murderers and cowards," Professor Falk is neither infamous nor famous--he is simply the German Everyman. Hester believes his life story could make for an important contemporary historical document--kitchen table history. Heinrich is married (four times, twice to his current wife) and has four daughters. But madly in love with Hester, adultery is nothing new to him. As he assists her in her note-taking--about him and his family, about German history--she often suspects Heinrich is covering up something. Was his brother really a Werewolf, a Nazi militiaman who vowed to continue fighting after the war's end? What kind of gas company did his mother work for? And what exactly did his father do during those years?Yet Hester has her secrets, too, and the longer she remains in Germany the harder it is to keep them concealed. As she uncovers more of the Falk family's possible connection to Nazism, she finds herself reexamining her feelings about her own parents and her complicated attraction to Heinrich. As the lovers' intimacy deepens beyond the erotic, each suspects the other of hiding something about the past.Called a "rare and remarkable writer" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham, Kirshenbaum has written a searing novel about history's unforgettable legacy and its continuing impact.

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