Stones from the River

Ursula Hegi, Author Poseidon Press $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-78075-3
Returning to Burgdorf, the small German community she memorably depicted in Floating in My Mother's Palm , Hegi captures the events and atmosphere in the country prior, during and after WW II. Again she has produced a powerful novel whose chilling candor and resonant moral vision serve a dramatic story. With a sure hand, Hegi evokes the patterns of small-town life, individualized here in dozens of ordinary people who display the German passion for order, obedience and conformity, enforced for centuries by rigid class differences and the strictures of the Catholic church. The protagonist is Trudi Montag, the Zwerg (dwarf) who becomes the town's librarian; (she and most of the other characters figured in the earlier book). A perennial outsider because of her deformity, Trudi exploits her gift for eliciting peoples' secrets--and often maliciously reveals them in suspenseful gossip. But when Hitler ascends to power, she protects those who have been kind to her, including two Jewish families who, despite the efforts of Trudi, her father and a few others, are fated to perish in the Holocaust. Trudi is a complex character, as damaged by her mother's madness and early death as she is by the later circumstances of her life, and she is sometimes cruel, vindictive and vengeful. It is fascinating to watch her mature, as she experiences love and loss and finds wisdom, eventually learning to live with the vast amnesia that grips formerly ardent Nazis after the war. One hopes that Hegi will continue to depict the residents of Burgdorf--Germany in microcosm--thus deepening our understanding of a time and place. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-57705-6
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