Synopses & Reviews
1945. At the end of the Second World War, a young mother loses her two-year-old boy in the bombings of Berlin. She flees to the south, where her father finds among the refugee trains a young foundling of the same age to replace his grandson. He makes his daughter promise never to tell anyone, including her husband—still fighting on the Russian front—that the boy is not her own. Nobody will know the difference.
2008. Gregor Liedmann is a Jewish man now in his sixties. He is an aging rocker who ran away from home, a trumpet player, and a revolutionary stone-thrower left over from the 1968 protests. On a single day spent gathering fruit in an orchard outside Berlin with family and friends, Gregor looks back over his life, sifting through fact and memory in order to establish the truth. What happened on that journey south in the final days of the war? Why did his grandfather Emil disappear, and why did the gestapo torture Uncle Max? Here, in the calmness of the orchard, along with his ex-wife Mara and son Daniel, Gregor tries to unlock the secrets of his past.
"As in his memoirs The Speckled People and The Harbor Boys, Hamilton's dominant theme in this absorbing and introspective novel is identity. His protagonist, Gregor Liedmann, was a toddler when Nazi Germany surrendered, and he grew up in Nuremberg enveloped by the nation's shame. By the time he is in his 20s, a musician living in Berlin, Gregor has created a romantic persona for himself, that of a twice-orphaned Jew. The personal history he tells his friends, the woman he marries and his son, is based on denial and instinct, few facts and much supposition. He believes, because he wants to believe, that he was a refugee given to a woman who lost her only child in a bombing. Hamilton writes vividly about the frustration of a boy living with adults damaged by war, though his examination of the common embellishments individuals use while inventing and affirming their own histories can feel redundant. Even so, the questions he raises are fascinating." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“As in his memoirs The Speckled People and The Harbor Boys, Hamiltons dominant theme in this absorbing and introspective novel is identity....Hamilton writes vividly about the frustration of a boy living with adults damaged by war....The questions he raises are fascinating.” Publishers Weekly
About the Author
In his first novel since the bestselling memoir The Speckled People, Hugo Hamilton has created a truly compelling story of lost identity and a remarkable reflection on the ambiguity of belonging.