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Eva's Cousin

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Eva's Cousin Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Were you able to relate to Marlene, and if so, how?

2. Would you agree that Marlene, in many ways, seems like a normal girl caught in frighteningly abnormal circumstances? Why or why not?

3. Does reading about Marlenes complicity make you uneasy at all, and if so, why?

4. Should literature please us or make us uncomfortable? How does Evas Cousin do either, neither, or both?

5. How do history and fiction collide in Evas Cousin? Do you find “truth” in stories, in facts, or in both? What does “historically accurate” even mean?

6. Hitler himself famously used the Armenian genocide and Europes apparent amnesia of it, as an example of how the victors write history. How might Gertrude Weiskers story have been different had Germany won World War II? What does this say about historys relationship to fiction?

7. Why would an author choose to fictionalize a story like Weiskers? How do your expectations change as a reader when you read a novel about an historical event, versus a history book?

8. What constitutes an “historical event”?

9. The Nazis themselves knew that words are dangerous. Do you think Marlene knew this, as well? If so, why?

10. How could Eva Braun love a man like Hitler? What might this suggest about the nature of love, if anything?

11. Would you recommend this book to anyone? Why or why not? Would you recommend it to a German friend? Why or why not?

12. What, if anything, does this book contribute to your understanding of Germany during World War II? Does it confirm or challenge any of your current knowledge about the War?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780345449061
Translator:
Bell, Anthea
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Translator:
Bell, Anthea
Author:
Sybille Knauss Translated by Anthea Bell
Author:
Knauss, Sibylle
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20031231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.21x5.47x.78 in. .61 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Eva's Cousin New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345449061 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This story is as true as the facts on which it is based, and as fictional as any novel."
"Review" by , "An intimate portrait of two women at the center of history and how innocence itself can be a crime against humanity. My book of the year."
"Review" by , "Elegantly told, Knauss' thought-provoking novel explores Marlene's conflicted thoughts about her cousin, the war, and the SS officer who becomes her lover. Both passively complicit and helpless, Marlene is nonetheless a character who commands the reader's sympathy and interest."
"Review" by , "Sibylle Knauss's hallucinatory novel shows how people might sleepwalk into complicity in the worst crimes of the twentieth century. It extends the scope of human understanding in a deeply disturbing way. I was hugely impressed by it."
"Review" by , "[A] strange, moving and disturbing book....In Anthea Bell's excellent translation, Eva's Cousin is a novel that feels like the truth."
"Synopsis" by , In the summer of 1944, twenty-year-old Marlene is thrilled to visit her older cousin, Eva Braun — Adolf Hider's mistress — at the Fuhrer's Bavarian mountain retreat. But soon a clandestine mission of mercy forces her to question her allegiance to both her cousin and her country — and to face the chilling reality that exists outside her sheltered world. Based on the true experiences of Eva Braun's cousin, Gertrude Weisker, who has shared her memories with Sibylle Knauss after more than fifty years of silence, Eva's Cousin illuminates the banality of the domestic face of evil. It casts a special light on the profound questions of innocence and complicity that still haunt much of the world today.
"Synopsis" by , Berchtesgaden, Germany, is a beautiful place, set among the gentle meadow-clad hills rising to the sheer heights of bare Alpine peaks. It is here where an elderly woman arrives and recollects her past—and her peripheral role in a chapter of world history. She walks along a beaten path, which has come into being because so many tourists have ventured this way . . . to see something that exists only in her memory.

In the summer of 1944, twenty-year-old Marlene is thrilled when her older, more glamorous cousin, Eva Braun, Adolph Hitlers mistress, invites her to come to the Fuhrers Bavarian mountain retreat. Against her fathers wishes, Marlene accepts, and immediately sets forth to Berghof.

There, while Hitler is away desperately trying to turn the tides of war, Marlene finds herself in a strange paradise, a world of opulence and imminent danger, of freedom and surveillance. The two women sneak off and skinny-dip in a nearby-lake, watch films in the Fuhrers private cinema, and flirt with the SS officers at the dinner table—one of whom will become Marlenes first lover.

Initially delighted by Evas attentions, Marlene later tries to understand the elusive connection between her cousin and the man she loves.

In quiet defiance, she begins to commit her own acts of subversion, which include listening to BBC radio broadcasts, forbidden by the Fuhrer. But a clandestine mission of mercy will force her to question her allegiance to both her cousin and her country—and to face the chilling reality that exists outside her sheltered world.

Based on the true experiences of Eva Brauns cousin, Gertrude Weisker, who has shared her memories with Sibylle Knauss after more than fifty years of silence, Evas Cousin is a novel that illuminates the banality of the domestic face of evil. It casts a special light on the profound questions of innocence and complicity that still haunt much of the world today.

From the Hardcover edition.

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