The award-winning Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder is this month’s starting point for Six Degrees of Separation, which is organized by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. The idea is to start with the same title, add six books, and see where you wind up. Kate's blog has links to other chains.
Stasiland is nonfiction by an Australian author which sounds interesting but the libraries that own copies locally are closed so it will have to wait. I see the book is taught in the history department of Dean College which is part of my library network.
My first book is Forty Autumns by Nina Wilner (2016), her family memoir about five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I read this in 2017 and have recommended it to numerous people.
My second book is also set in Germany, Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (2019), perhaps better known for her quilting books. This is a WWII novel about brave women trying to bring down the Third Reich from within. I have a copy of this book to give away (US only). Leave me a message if you would like me to send it to you.
Another fairly recent read is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (2004), which is my third book. This is another WWII novel, set in Germany and in Minnesota as a daughter tries to learn and understand her mother’s secrets from the past.
My fourth book also takes place in Germany, The Women in the Castle by local Brookline author Jessica Shattuck (2017). It focuses on the years after WWII when three German women try to rebuild their lives, haunted by the past.
After all these fairly dark stories, I needed something more uplifting! Black Forest Summer by Mabel Esther Allan (1957), a prolific English author of children’s and young adult fiction, is about siblings Max, Asta, Thea, and Vanora who have just lost their mother, so perhaps that is not immediately cheerful. Asta is an aspiring artist and Thea takes ballet at the Lingeraux School, which features in other MEA books. Luckily, they are invited to Germany by their deceased father’s brother, Uncle Gustav, whose family lives in Freiburg, for a summer holiday to recover from their sorrow and to make plans for the future.
It pleases me that my copy is from Regina, Saskatchewan (there is a sticker inside); I purchased it from Primrose Books in Saskatoon long ago. On the other hand, it displeases me that it is a Children’s Press edition which doubtless means it is abridged. Booksellers should be required to disclose this information, don’t you think?
Finally, for my sixth book, I chose Lottie and Lisa (original German title: Das doppelte Lottchen "The double Lottie"), a 1949 novel by Erich Kästner about twins, separated at birth, who meet at summer camp. This book inspired the Disney movie The Parent Trap – I think my friend Jenny Altshuler lent me the novelization long before I had seen the movie. The current generation is more familiar with the 1998 movie starring Lindsay Lohan than the 1961 Hayley Mills version, which I prefer.
I wasn't sure where the chain would lead when I began but I like this Germany theme. Next month’s book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I suspect the current state of the world is sufficiently post-apocalyptic without my having to read a novel about it. My current reading is primarily escapist. What about you? Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?