This Must Be the Place

Anna Winger, Author
Anna Winger, Author . Riverhead $24.95 (303p) ISBN 978-1-59448-997-6
Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008

In Winger's touching and emotionally turbulent debut, the fantasy of new beginnings gives way to a persistent sense of haunted—but oddly comforting—history. Set in Berlin in the late fall of 2001, the novel focuses on the overlapping stories of grieving American expat Hope and has-been minor German celebrity Walter, who's dreaming of a new career in Hollywood. Hope recently suffered a late-term miscarriage and has reluctantly joined her economist husband in Berlin despite a widening gulf between them and her crippling depression. Walter's teenage heartthrob status has withered with age, and now he dubs American films into German. The friendship that blooms between them raises issues about personal and national identity, though their coming together is a bit too neat, as are the many oversimplifications of Americans and Germans that pepper the narrative. The real drama arises between the cities of New York and Berlin; both cities, like Hope and Walter, bear a profound survivor's guilt: the war, the wall and the towers overwhelm individual sorrows. There are a few clunky moments, but the elegant ending and confident storytelling are redeeming. (Aug.)

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