- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
This item may be
Check for Availability
Snowleg: A Novelby Nicholas Shakespeare
Synopses & Reviews
When sixteen-year-old Peter Hithersay discovers that his father is not the affable Englishman married to his mother, but an East German political dissident with whom she had a brief affair in the 1960s, he abandons Winchester for Leipzig in search of his past. There he encounters a lovely young woman who is beginning to question the way her society is governed, and Peter falls immediately in love with her. But their romance ends quickly and badly when his scheme to smuggle her out of the country goes awry, and he returns to England, only to spend the next nineteen years in a desultory career and a series of perfunctory affairs.
When the two Germanies are reunited, Peter goes back to look for the woman he has never stopped loving. But the only clues he has are the nickname he gave her, Snowleg, and the relentless archives of the state that drove them apart.
Nicholas Shakespeare is on his home ground in this beautifully written, informed, sensitive story about the unassailable dictates of love and politics.
"The personal and the political clash in this sometimes haunting but often baffling novel about Peter Hithersay, an English teenager, and his one-night encounter with an East German girl, known to him only by her nickname, 'Snowleg,' in 1983. She begs him to take her back to the West; for reasons he can't quite fathom himself — and which will haunt him for the next 20 years — he refuses (indeed, he publicly rejects her) and loses his chance at what appears to be love at first sight. Peter may have been re-creating his mother's experience: she had a brief affair with an East German (Peter was the result) and never saw him again, and Peter's trip behind the Iron Curtain is driven by the desire to learn something, anything, about his German father. Later, he essentially gives up England and his affable family, becoming a doctor in West Germany, where he strives (mostly unsuccessfully) to build meaningful relationships of his own. The strongest narrative thread, Peter's search for Snowleg, is compelling enough, but accounts for a small fraction of the plot. Shakespeare (The Dancer Upstairs) deftly captures both the paranoia and the material and cultural poverty of East Germany as well as Peter's existential struggle to find his place in the world, but the haphazard story line fails to compel." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Shakespeare here weds a formal, detached prose style to a deeply romantic theme; the result is a powerful, ethereal love story....A beautifully written, utterly compelling story of love and politics." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Shakespeare has constructed a moving story that speaks volumes about an era and a political system that is rapidly slipping into the recesses of our memory." Washington Post Book World
"The novel moves at a cool, deliberate pace; nothing rushes the author (though sometimes we wish it would).... What saves the book from total collapse is the way in which Shakespeare draws us into the lives of his characters and their personal and political quests." San Francisco Chronicle
The award-winning writer of The Dancer Upstairs presents this beautifully written, sensitive story that spans the Cold War in 1960s East Germany to the 1980s, about one man's longing for a love he had the chance to grasp but failed to take.
About the Author
Nicholas Shakespeare is the author of The Dancer Upstairs, selected by the American Libraries Association as the best novel of 1997, and an acclaimed biography of Bruce Chatwin. Named one of Granta magazine's "Best Young British Novelists" in 1993, Shakespeare lives in Wiltshire, England.
What Our Readers Are Saying