A young man and an older woman have a torrid love affair, until she disappears one day without a trace. Ten years later, he's in law school, watching a trial, and there she is: charged with Nazi war crimes! Yes, she does have a secret, but it's not what you think. Excellent! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Summoned from Vienna to Frankfurt to testify at the Auschwitz trials, Heiner meets Lena, who is working at the court as a translator. During the trial, he describes his experiences of being deported to Auschwitz as a young man. Afterward, the two begin a cautious love affair, but both are unsure whether their feelings will be strong enough to persevere in the shadow of his earlier ordeals. Heiner knows that if they are to stay together, Lena will have to accept the memories of Auschwitz that mark him and build a new life amid the debris of his past.
In this moving novel, Monika Held draws on first-hand reports by Auschwitz survivors to paint an emotive picture of life and love governed by trauma. Throughout, Heiner’s suffering is omnipresent, and Lena’s struggle to hold her own in a relationship dominated by his past is deeply moving. His stories are horrific and disturbing, but they are a part of his identity; he cannot survive without them. And slowly, Lena learns to cherish her own past despite its apparent insignificance.
With its sensitive treatment of two people struggling to confront the Holocaust’s atrocities from very different vantage points, This Place Holds No Fear is a powerful novel of finding love after experiencing unimaginable loss.
"When Michael Berg began attending the Nazi war trials as part of a college class, he never expected to find Hanna an older woman who had seduced him when he was a teenager as one of the accused. Berg is himself paralyzed by a moral dilemma that may free her, but also destroy her. Schlink uses this intriguing and complex relationship to engage issues of identity, ego and freedom of choice that are emphasized within the backdrop of the Holocaust. Campbell Scott proves an excellent narrator, with an eloquent and precise tone that gives a reflective distance to this first-person account, emphasizing the Berg's evolution as he grows from youth into adult. Scott's deliberate delivery also emphasizes Berg's emerging maturity; initially, his deliberateness hints at insecurity while later on, Scott's steady reading indicates experience. A Vintage paperback. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A quite extraordinary book.”
Summoned from Vienna to Frankfurt to testify at the Auschwitz trials, Heiner meets Lena, who is working at the court as a translator. As the trial progresses, Heiner bears witness to his experiences of being deported to Auschwitz as a young man. He and Lena begin a cautious love affair, but both are unsure whether their love can be strong enough to cope with his trauma. Heiner knows that if they are going to stay together Lena will have to accept the shadow of Auschwitz that marks him. When she does, they start to build a new life around the debris of his past.
In clear, unobtrusive prose, Monika Held paints an emotive picture of life and love governed by trauma. Heiners suffering is omnipresent, and Lenas struggle to hold her own in an imbalanced relationship dominated by his past is deeply moving. His stories are horrific and disturbing, but he cannot survive without them. Slowly, Lena learns to cherish her own past despite its apparent insignificance.
About the Author
Monika Held is a freelance journalist. Born in Hamburg, she has traveled around the world and been awarded many prizes for her writing and political commitment. She lives in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.Anne Posten translates contemporary German poetry and prose, including works by Tankred Dorst, Thomas Brasch, and Uwe Kolbe.
Table of Contents
Afterword by Monika Held