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Stones from the river
Ursula Hegi
Adult Fiction

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Returning to Burgdorf, the small German community she memorably depicted in Floating in My Mother's Palm , Hegi captures the events and atmosphere in the country prior, during and after WW II. Again she has produced a powerful novel whose chilling candor and resonant moral vision serve a dramatic story. With a sure hand, Hegi evokes the patterns of small-town life, individualized here in dozens of ordinary people who display the German passion for order, obedience and conformity, enforced for centuries by rigid class differences and the strictures of the Catholic church. The protagonist is Trudi Montag, the Zwerg (dwarf) who becomes the town's librarian; (she and most of the other characters figured in the earlier book). A perennial outsider because of her deformity, Trudi exploits her gift for eliciting peoples' secrets--and often maliciously reveals them in suspenseful gossip. But when Hitler ascends to power, she protects those who have been kind to her, including two Jewish families who, despite the efforts of Trudi, her father and a few others, are fated to perish in the Holocaust. Trudi is a complex character, as damaged by her mother's madness and early death as she is by the later circumstances of her life, and she is sometimes cruel, vindictive and vengeful. It is fascinating to watch her mature, as she experiences love and loss and finds wisdom, eventually learning to live with the vast amnesia that grips formerly ardent Nazis after the war. One hopes that Hegi will continue to depict the residents of Burgdorf--Germany in microcosm--thus deepening our understanding of a time and place. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Trudi Montag, a dwarf born in Germany during World War I, narrates her life story from her earliest memories through post-World War II. Being different sometimes renders Trudi almost invisible to those around her, allowing her to eavesdrop on the daily dramas of her neighbors' adultery, cowardice, heroism, insanity, and Jewish persecution. Hegi draws on her own youth in small-town Germany (she emigrated to the United States at age 18) to establish an authentic setting, painting the emergence of Nazi Germany on an intimate canvas of a small town and its humanly flawed population. Berlin-born reader Kim Edwards-Fukei augments the authenticity of place with her German accent and pronunciation, which, coupled with more than a sprinkling of German words, requires the listener's full concentration. With the 528-page tome converted into 24 hours of listening, a longer loan period may be warranted. An Oprah Book Club selection and one of four PEN/Faulkner 1995 runners up, this is recommended for all fiction collections. Judith Robinson, Univ. at Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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