This book like all those set during the great World Wars is so emotional, so factual, so matter of fact at most times that it brings all the cruelty, the in humaneness of dictators, of racism, of actual bitter hatred back, that it is frightening. It also spins a story of generations of people who strive to survive, of selflessness and always thinking of others.
Set in Germany our family is upper middle class Jewish. Educated in the arts at the height of his career Baumgarten does not think that his life is going to be fraught with danger. Even when all the signs show that Jews are no longer to be tolerated, he is protected by his profession and goes on for much much longer than others. It is at others persuasion that he knows that the future for his daughter who is herself a prodigy is bleak that moves are made to send them out of Germany to Bologna.
From here the story of Ada and her mother evolves always with the hateful Nazi powerforce behind them. Italy is not safe either but where else are they to go. Opportunities are there in Vienna but Austria is swallowed by Nazi Germany. They have left going to America too late and with the death of Ada's grandfather that sponsorship avenue is closed to them.
Told in two time lines. WW1 and 2017 the story starts from trying to prevent an old lady Gabriella from being evicted from her vineyard where she has lived for 70 odd years. Even though judgement has been given, her nephew approaches a hot shot lawyer in Chicago pleading with her to take the case. Facing obstacle after obstacle Caroline and Liam knows that the whole thing is off when registrar books are missing, lawyers are evasive and seem to have been bought over, one clerk turns up murdered and a company that no one knows anything about.
In history you go back decades to turn up a hatred between a German officer and a young girl and someone who seeks revenge at every turn. Unraveling pages of a family history that is convoluted at best, you also read about slices of history that most people would like to forget.
The characterization was excellent, the story telling even more so.
Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press.