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The Moment: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439180792
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439180792
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cold war Berlin provides a moody backdrop for Kennedy's tale of a travel writer's remembrances of love and betrayal, friendship and danger, opportunity and entrapment, while working for Radio Liberty in the divided city. Narrator Thomas Nesbitt, age 50, retreats into his house in Maine to wallow in memories of living in Germany 25 years earlier after the success of his first book. In West Berlin, Thomas meets his soul mate, Petra Dussmann, a translator with an iron curtain around her heart. Petra's mysterious melancholy proves irresistible, and as Thomas is drawn into a passionate affair, he also becomes entangled in spy games played by the Stasi and the CIA. Against the mix of le Carré–esque intrigue and Isherwoodish debauchery, the couple's fervor flourishes until they start talking marriage. That's when Thomas learns what nearly everyone has been trying to tell him: relationships are shadowy in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. Kennedy (Leaving the World) once again creates characters that are credible if not complex in a compelling if not wildly original love story thickened by stories-within-his-story. This isn't so much a new perspective on the cold war as an observant, compassionate, and romantic portrait of emotional turmoil in troubled times. (May)
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"Kennedy is an absolute master at love stories with heart-stopping twists ... The Moment is simply sensational." Times "His most ambitious to date and most deeply felt." Daily Mirror "The storytelling is served up thick and meaty ... the result is a big, satisfying read." Daily Mail "Kennedy, like William Boyd and Paul Watkins, has always managed to walk that precarious tight-rope of credibility between the twin towers of popular and literary fiction... Kennedy is particularly adept at capturing the ugliness of modern life... He captures with acuity men's self-destructive nature and the eddies in which husbands, fathers and sons find themselves caught." Independent on Sunday "Douglas Kennedy's 10th novel, The Moment, a tome running to almost 500 pages, is weighty enough to crush any doubts about this prolific author's status as a stylish popular novelist and a classy purveyor of the gripping yarn... It is the quality of evaluation, this conscious appraisal of unforeseen loss, of gallant naivety, of the bullish youthful belief in the right to happiness, that sets Kennedy's work apart from that of many other popular novelists... It is a gripping read and an honest attempt to address human frailty while playing out our minor destinies in the face of great love and desperate loss." Irish Times --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

More About the Author

Douglas Kennedy is the author of ten novels, including the international bestseller Leaving the World and The Moment. His work has been translated into 22 languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Born in Manhattan, he now has homes in London, Paris, and Maine, and has two children.

Customer Reviews

The prose was extremely well written and rhythmic.
Kennedy makes the reader think about their own lives and how their personal experiences relate to the characters in the story.
It is a fantastic read and is such a great book that I just cannot put down once started.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Regis Schilken on November 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
It seems that almost every human being faces a moment in life when they make a decision--a heavy choice--one that can encourage something loving and good, or one that can cover up, divide, and then smother a sacred fire--such as the intimate love between man and woman. In Douglas Kennedy's The Moment, there is such an unforgettable--moment. Back in 1984 when the Berlin Wall loomed ominously between East and West Germany, American Thomas Nesbitt and an East German woman, Petra Dussman, meet and passionately fall in love.

But their passion becomes, in a way, a crucifixion. Nesbitt finds out that his beloved Petra is a Russian agent. Can he believe it, no. Not at first, but slowly her deceit becomes a mental stumbling block that nails his mind with deceit. Nesbitt feels he's been betrayed by a woman in whom he'd placed his intimate trust. Even more, he had been feeding her the information she needed. Their relationship explodes irrepairably.

Nesbitt returns to the United States and moves on with his life as a travel writer for a while. As he ages, his marriage here in the States dissolves. Mentally unnerved, he flees to the American northeast to live in a somewhat depressed frozen solitude as if his very life blood has iced to a standstill. He and his loving daughter contact one another but only on rare occasions.

Now, in The Moment, it is twenty-six languishing years later. A small box arrives for Nesbitt through the mail. He opens it. To his anguish, he begins to realize the consequences of the decisive moment he'd faced with Petra so many years ago.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By L. SUMMERS on May 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Douglas Kennedys books which are wildly popular in Europe A few of his books made it here after being released there, but mostly in Trade Paperbacks This was going to be his big American hardcover novel that would really put him on the scene Unfortunately, I lost Douglas Kennedy somewhere The book has a good beginning and ending he could have cut 100 pages out Rambling sentenses of pure angst, some so boring I began to skip It was literary, it was deep, it was very well written, but is was also drawn out If you read one of his books like the Woman on Fifth which was a particular favorite, you would see that it flowed This was just long Mr Kennedy does have a story to tell, and it is a love story, but in my mind it could have been much better
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on January 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
From my Fami-Lit blog on WordPress:

Before discussing the book, I'd like to say that this particular author has a very impressive vocabulary. I make it a habit of looking up words I don't know, and I had to look up quite a few while reading this book. Test yourself...answers will be at the bottom of the post.

impecunious: a) carefree, without regard b) penniless, poor c) lacking sense

castellatus: a) cloud with small turrets b) of or relating to the baroque period c) percussion instrument

felucca: a) men's hat b) a sailing vessel c) trim surrounding an arched doorway

bromide (in addition to a chemical compound, it is also): a) a caustic comment b) a trite saying c) a dubious remark

paroxysm: a) coincidental occurrence b) atypical political viewpoint c) violent outburst

Now...on to the book.

When forced to make a quick but momentous decision, I often wonder afterwards how different my life would have been if I had chosen a different path. Although this book explores several themes, the residue that is left...the point that I thought about after finishing the book...was the effect of hastily made decisions.

This book explores that theme through romantic love. The main character, Thomas, is a writer who is recently divorced. A package arrives from Berlin which he assumes is from his former lover, which begins the flashback that encompasses most of the story. Thomas goes off to Berlin to write a book, at which point the book explores communism, the Cold War, and all of the related issues in Germany during the late 1980's. Midway through, he meets and falls in love with Petra, and we learn how they ended up apart by the end of the story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beth on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In THE MOMENT by Douglas Kennedy, a divorced man, a writer living alone in a cottage, receives a package in the mail. He doesn't immediately open it but does recognize the name of the sender. It's from Petra, someone he knew many years ago, back in the 1980s when he was 25 and living in Germany.

He kept a notebook during that time. And now he takes it out to read BEFORE he opens the package. (That was just the first unbelievable incident in this book.)

So now we go back to the 1980s. After being scared off by a girlfriend in New York who wants to get married, Thomas Nesbitt plans to write a book about life in Germany. He travels there and gets a job with Radio Free Europe, where he writes essays in English to be read on the radio in both German and English. So he has a translator.

All the while, Nesbitt is also learning to live peacefully with an Irish roommate who sounds English and is a heroin junkie. He's rude and crude and impossible to live with, but Thomas cares about him deeply in no time, another of the unbelievable incidents in this book. While Kennedy tried to show again and again how intelligent and cultured Nesbitt was, he seemed pretty stupid when it came to that roommate.

Before long, Nesbitt and his translator, Petra, meet to discuss his essay. Of course, their conversation turns personal rather than professional right away. Then, before you know it, they're back at Nesbitt's place (while his roommate is conveniently in the hospital) in bed.

They're both deeply in love. (That was quick.) Petra moves in. No one asks Nesbitt's roommate if that's OK with him; it just is. And, of course, now he's no longer rude and crude, and he's been weaned off the heroin.
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