cover image Castle Gripsholm

Castle Gripsholm

Kurt Tucholsky. Overlook Press, $16.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-87951-293-4

A teasing lightness of tone as the narrator and his mistress playfully make love in the bland Swedish countryside entices the reader into a summertime idyll. But, wandering forth one day from their suite in a storybook castle, the lovers apprehend a tearstained little girl running for her life. She has broken out of the children's home on the other side of the lake, presided over by a sadistic headmistress whose grip grows more crushing the moment one of her charges tries to slip out of it. The two learn from the child her mother's whereabouts and contrive to take her there. These are the bare bones of a narrative that is in fact a parable for the evil threatening Germany in 1935. The author, a polemical journalist during the last days of the Weimar Republic, chose in this, his only novel, to write about the pleasures of wine and women and the gratifications of friendship, and to do so in prose so luminous and exuberant that the bitterness of real life in the children's home seems an intrusion. He has given us characters of wit and charm, who, even though they rescue one forlorn child, are powerless against the rising tide of horror. (July)