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Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1997: Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River clamors for comparisons to Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum; her protagonist Trudi Montag--like the unforgettable Oskar Mazerath--is a dwarf living in Germany during the two World Wars. To its credit, Stones does not wilt from the comparison. Hegi's book has a distinctive, appealing flavor of its own. Stone's characters are off-center enough to hold your attention despite the inevitable dominance of the setting: There's Trudi's mother, who slowly goes insane living in an "earth nest" beneath the family house; Trudi's best friend Georg, whose parents dress him as the girl they always wanted; and, of course, Trudi herself, whose condition dooms her to long for an impossible normalcy. Futhermore, the reader's inevitable sympathy for Trudi, the dwarf, heightens the true grotesqueness of Nazi Germany. Stones from the River is a nightmare journey with an unforgettable guide.
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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Great read, complex with lots of characters that get developed nicely.Published 5 days ago by jobie
I admit I quit on page 100. It was all interesting in a way, but for me there wasn't enough variation in emotion, and not enough a feeling of forward momentum. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Free Press Advocate
Ugh. I tried and tried to like it. I read every page. The last of the book was worse than the slow beginning. Save your money.Published 20 days ago by Marilyn Wise
Well written story about Jewish survival in the years before and during WWII. Told from an interesting viewpoint.Published 29 days ago by Kat
This is such an incredibly well written and lengthy story. A hard hitting, deeply moving and fascinating story. A truly wonderful work of art.Published 2 months ago by BurgundyPlush
I'm faced with a dilemma in trying to read this book. First, it's a point of pride for me to always finish a book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Deborah Collins
I think it's a great book because it is very descriptive, has well developed characters and moves along at a steady pace. Read morePublished 2 months ago by C.A.Lutes
The fact that the point of view is essentially that of the main character, a female dwarf living in a small German village during Hitler's rise (and fall), affords the author a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sharon M.