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A good American
Alex George
Adult Fiction GEORGE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

George's debut novel is a sentimental, lively, and sad family saga spanning four generations, from a couple's flight out of Germany in 1904 to the hope that their great-grandchildren hold for the future. The story is told by James Martin Meisenheimer, the grandson of the original immigrant couple, the unusually tall Jette and the unabashedly rotund and red-bearded Frederick. This unlikely pair falls in love in Hanover and flees (a mother, not a war) to the U.S. with Jette pregnant. She gives birth to James's father, Joseph, in Beatrice, Mo., a small town whose residents are capable of both kindness and hatred. Frederick opens a bar, then volunteers for the army and is killed in WWI. Jette turns the bar into a restaurant during Prohibition, a place that feeds the townspeople-with food, yes, but also music-for decades. When James calls his grandmother's life "one long opera," full of "love, great big waves of it, crashing ceaselessly against the rocks of life," he is very much a mouthpiece for author George (and not unlike Styron's Stingo), whose debut chronicles much of the 20th century through the eyes of one family. George, a British lawyer who has practiced law in London, Paris, and Columbia, Mo., where he now lives, evokes smalltown life lovingly, sometimes disturbingly, and examines the ties of family, the complications of home, and the moments of love and happiness that arrive no matter what. Agent: Emma Sweeney Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In this inviting debut novel by a British emigre about several generations of a family seeking to become "good Americans," two young lovers, Frederick Meisenheimer and Jette Furst, emigrate from Germany to the small town of Beatrice, MO, in 1904. George captures both the good and bad qualities of small-town living as he deftly brings Beatrice to life through eloquent portraits of its residents: among them, a fiery preacher who vows to stop shaving until the family patriarch returns to church and a dour dwarf whose beautiful wife captivates the town's young men. The Meisenheimers' risky friendship with an African American jazz musician from New Orleans is particularly moving, and the power of music to help people connect is a recurring theme. VERDICT Despite some dark moments, the book's overall tone is warm and nostalgic as the couple's grandson tells his family's story. George's narrator is bland when compared with his more colorful relatives, and this causes the novel to lose steam once the focus is on his own experiences rather than those of his parents and grandparents. Nonetheless, this memorable and well-written exploration of one family's search for acceptance in America should strongly appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]-Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Frederick Meisenheimer
Sails to America; enlists in the Army to defend his new country;.

Jette Meisenheimer
Sails to America for safety and opportunities.

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