The Devil's Mistress: The Diary of Eva Braun: The Woman Who Lived and Died with Hitler: A Novel

Alison Leslie Gold, Author Faber & Faber $24.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-571-19923-5
Gold (Clairvoyant: The Imagined Life of Lucia Joyce; Anne Frank Remembered, with Miep Gies) returns to Nazi Germany in this unconvincing fictive extrapolation of some fragments from Eva Braun's diary. Grafting fictional jottings around 11 actual journal entries written by Braun over several months in 1935, Gold compiles her own picture of the couple's relationship. The entries date from shortly before the couple's first meeting in 1929 (she was 17, he was 45) to their suicide in his bunker under Berlin 16 years later. Gold strives for ironic effect, portraying Braun's selfishness (her preoccupation with acquiring new clothes, shoes and jewelry and her desire for public recognition as the Fuhrer's mate) while her family suffers wartime hardships, acquaintances are carted off to concentration camps and Hitler himself deteriorates physically and mentally. Oblivious to the destruction around her, Effie, as Braun is known to her familiars, sips vermouth, practices gymnastics, dotes on her ill-tempered little dogs and maneuvers after her distracted lover's attentions. But the satire here is unrevealing and restrained, and the characterizations are never believable. The manufactured diary entries do not mesh with the real ones; nor are they always consistent in themselves. Clumsy insertion of expository and historical detail into Effie's accounts serve ironic purposes but subvert the central illusion of the book. An incongruous cloak-and-dagger opening depicting the shadowy purchase of the diary with other Hitler artifacts further confuses the muddled narrative tone. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
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