The Kommandant's Mistress

Sherri Szeman, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.5 (273p) ISBN 978-0-06-017011-0
This powerful and provocative first novel charts one woman's harrowing experience in a Nazi concentration camp. Rachel Sarah Levi, a Czech novelist and poet, is transported with her family, first to the Warsaw Ghetto and then to a death camp run by Maximilian von Walther, an alcoholic sadist. Her parents are gassed at once; Rachel, however, is confined to the kommandant's office, where she is forced to fulfill his sexual demands despite his wife's jealous rages. The grim tale is related from the opposing perspectives of von Walther, who sees himself as a family man and idealistic patriot, and Rachel, whose terse commentary exposes him as a misogynist and cold-blooded mass murderer. In the conclusion, two brief, quasi-official biographical profiles add more layers of possibility to an already complex story. Flashbacks and flash-forwards in both narratives provide glimpses of von Walther's meetings with top Nazis, of Rachel's nightmare-plagued life after the war and of a final, violent confrontation between the two protagonists. Szeman's uncompromising realism and superb use of stream-of-consciousness technique make this a chilling study of evil, erotic obsession and the will to survive. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1993
Release date: 07/01/1993
Paperback - 273 pages - 978-1-55970-542-4
Paperback - 273 pages - 978-0-06-092497-3
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