Bohjalian (The Double Bind) leaves his traditional Vermont milieu for this well-crafted, deeply moving historical novel in which he traces the last months of World War II Germany through various lives, masterfully describing landscape and struggle. Narrator Mark Bramhall (An Atomic Romance) easily moves among accents and between genders. Bohjalian fans will applaud; highly recommended. [Also available from Random House Audio as a retail ed. unabridged CD (ISBN 978-0-7393-6623-3. $34.95) and digital download (ISBN 978-0-7393-6624-0); audio clips available through library.booksontape.com and www.randomhouse.com; the Shaye Areheart Books hc was recommended for fiction collections, LJ 5/1/08.--Ed.]--Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
In his 12th novel, Bohjalian (The Double Bind) paints the brutal landscape of Nazi Germany as German refugees struggle westward ahead of the advancing Russian army. Inspired by the unpublished diary of a Prussian woman who fled west in 1945, the novel exhumes the ruin of spirit, flesh and faith that accompanied thousands of such desperate journeys. Prussian aristocrat Rolf Emmerich and his two elder sons are sent into battle, while his wife flees with their other children and a Scottish POW who has been working on their estate. Before long, they meet up with Uri Singer, a Jewish escapee from an Auschwitz-bound train, who becomes the group's protector. In a parallel story line, hundreds of Jewish women shuffle west on a gruesome death march from a concentration camp. Bohjalian presents the difficulties confronting both sets of travelers with carefully researched detail and an unflinching eye, but he blinks when creating the Emmerichs, painting them as untainted by either their privileged status, their indoctrination by the Nazi Party or their adoration of Hitler. Although most of the characters lack complexity, Bohjalian's well-chosen descriptions capture the anguish of a tragic era and the dehumanizing desolation wrought by war. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.