Nella Bielski was born in the Ukraine and studied philosophy at Moscow University. Living in Paris, she writes in French and is the author of several novels including Oranges for the Son of Alexander Levy and After Arkadia. She has written scripts for the cinema-Isabelle (published by Arcadia Press)-and plays for the theater. A Question of Geography was staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Karl Bazinger, a Wehrmacht officer stationed in occupied Paris on a "deluxe tourist trip, paid for by the F?hrer," is sheltered from the cruelty of WWII at the opening of Ukrainian playwright and novelist Bielski's latest book. Surrounding himself with bohemian luminaries and eccentrics, the seductive and sophisticated Bazinger spends much of his time enjoying France, women and the occasional literary debate. Life becomes complicated when Karl's musings on the dubiousness of the German victory attract the attention of the SS, and grows even more so with a visit from Hans Bielenberg, an old friend likely involved in resistance activities. After a short trip home to Germany, a transfer to Kiev exposes Karl to the harsh realities of Hitler's regime; his visits to an underground Russian doctor, Katia, allow him a brief respite from the war's ravages. Bielski does a remarkable job of capturing the atmosphere in Paris, Saxony and Kiev during the war, but a plethora of characters and backstories muddle the plot and draw attention, and interest, away from Karl and his conflicted allegiance to his fatherland. The result can be frustrating, but Bielski's effort is intriguing, and this is a good book for readers interested in a more intimate view of WWII. (Dec. 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Karl Bazinger, an officer in the German Wehrmacht, lives the high life at his post in Paris until he suspects that the Gestapo is onto his dislike for the Nazis regime and applies for a transfer to the eastern front. The novel traces his journey home to Saxony en route to German-occupied Ukraine, where he has a fateful encounter with a Russian woman doctor. Small in page number and trim size, this book nevertheless tells a big story. Like Jerzy Andrzejewski's Ashes and Diamonds, it creates a historical panorama with well-developed characters whose fates we care about. Yet of its three parts, the third is held to the first two by the merest thread, and the otherwise serviceable translation is replete with anachronisms ("Belarus" for "Belorussia"), infelicities ("sat down on their arses"), and inaccuracies ("bottling" for "canning" vegetables). Nevertheless, Ukrainian-born Bielski (Oranges for the Son of Alexander), who lives in Paris, tells a tale of power and beauty that transcends its flaws. Recommended for all literary collections and larger public libraries.-Edward Cone, New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Wholly original and moving. . . . Portrays history as the
spymaster of us all." -John le Carre
"Absorbing. . . . So realistic that it seems almost impossible that the story and all the characters are entirely fictional."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"A shadowy novel, riddled with doubts and fears and suspicions that blow through the two cities and the village in a ghostly way. And it is full of beauty; fields, rivers, delicious meals and conversations." -Los Angeles Times
"What no resume can transmit is the luminosity of this work, the magic it works on the reader as it draws one into 1942. . . . This is one of those very rare novels that you want to read again as soon as you've got to the end." -The Guardian (London)