Motherland

Maria Hummel. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-61902-237-9
Fear, grief, and the will to survive fuse in this beautiful novel about the inner life of a German family in the final months of World War II. Inspired by letters written by Hummel’s (House and Fire) paternal grandparents and her father’s childhood in a war-torn Germany, Motherland occupies a relatively unexplored space in World War II literature, in which political sympathies and oppositions are vastly less important than finding enough tinder to keep the children warm or figuring out when to take an ailing child to the doctor. When Dr. Frank Kappus, a widower, is drafted into medical military service, he leaves behind his three sons with their brand new stepmother, Liesl. She does everything within her power to nurture the two grieving boys and the infant now in her care, including stretching their meager rations into filling meals and assuaging their fears of Allied bombings. The job becomes drastically more difficult when two refugee families are moved into the family’s house and six-year-old Ani’s constant stomachaches turn into something far more serious. Frank, working as a reconstructive surgeon 250 km away, is confronted daily with horrific battlefield injuries. The humiliations and guilt that each family member endures for the others are described with grace and humanity in this absorbing story. While stunningly intimate, Motherland is expansive in feeling and scope. Extending beyond a simple historical drama, this book is a reminder of the reach of love, how it can blind, and how it can heal. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/21/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-61902-466-3
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-61902-354-3
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