This is a captivating exploration of the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Alive to the special sweetness of the relationship, Figes also explores the darker side of childhood. How in fairy tales such as "Snow White", "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Hansel and Gretel" difficult emotions like jealousy and anger, fear of death and abandonment are evoked and transformed by the storyteller's art. It is at this point that the author evokes the fairy tale of her own privileged Berlin childhood which was brutally shattered when her family escaped from the Nazis to England, leaving behind the much loved grandparents, who perished in a Polish camp. But a new child around allows the grandmother the chance we all seek to sneak back into the garden of innocence.
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Eva Figes was born in Berlin and came to London as a child in 1939. She is the author of the feminist classic Patriarchal Attitudes and Sex and Subterfuge: Women Writers to 1850, and the editor of Women's letters in Wartime: 1450-1945. Her many novels include, Waking, Light, Ghosts and Nelly's Version. She is a grandmother herself and lives in London.From Publishers Weekly:
In this dark and light book, Figes (Patriarchal Attitudes; Waking; etc.) juxtaposes the misery of escaping Nazi Germany as a child and leaving her grandparents behind with the simple goodness of her relationship with her inquisitive granddaughter. "This is a story of childhood, of innocence and its fragility. Of the particular bond between the very old and the very young, living on the edge, sharing the moment. It is a special kind of love story," she writes. Figes is undoubtedly at her best writing about the unique humility and tremendous joy of becoming a grandparent. Her perspective on the cycle of life is poetic and wise without being preachy: "The earth on which we move is circular, the horizon bends. Time, like memory, is a mystery, and in our beginning is our end. Holding my hand in hers, my child's child completes the cycle, leads me homeward." Her message becomes murky, however, when she recounts the unimaginable torment of a childhood bisected by war. Her handling of that subject is so elliptical it's difficult to understand the events she's describing, beyond understanding that they have been the source of tremendous heartbreak.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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