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The Valley of Unknowing Hardcover – December 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (December 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393239330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393239331
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,050,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sington's newest (after The Einstein Girl), set in late-1980s East Germany, is a complex tale of artistic aspirations, romantic jealousies, and theft. Bruno Krug, a middle-aged plumber, is also the author of the acclaimed The Orphans of Neustadt, published 20 years earlier. When his editor asks him to review the manuscript of screenwriter Wolfgang Richter's first novel, The Valley of Unknowing, Bruno is astonished to discover that Valley reads like the sequel to Orphans he was never able to write. Meanwhile, Bruno falls in love with Theresa Aden, an Austrian violin player who is also in a relationship with Wolfgang. After the screenwriter dies under suspicious circumstances, Bruno claims full credit for Valley and dupes Theresa into smuggling it out of the country. She pseudonymously publishes it as Survivors, and the book garners international praise. As her star rises in the West, an insecure Bruno attempts to defect to marry her, but his bold literary theft and the vexing complications of the subterfuge prove too heavy a burden. Fans of Philip Kerr will appreciate the historical accuracy and intrigue of this Cold War–era literary thriller. (Dec.)

From Booklist

This fine novel offers a mix of politics and romance and, not incidentally, the world of book publishing. Bruno Krug is an East German author in the final days of that government, well regarded for an early novel, The Orphans of Neustadt, but who has left readers disappointed by his still-unfulfilled promise. He has been given a manuscript to read by his editor, and it turns out to be a virtual sequel to Orphans, written by Krug’s nemesis in literature and politics and, as it happens, a rival for the love of young musician Theresa Aden. By the time that rival’s sudden death, initially thought to be of natural causes, becomes a matter of suspicion, what Krug has done with the manuscript and his relationship with Aden has turned Sington’s novel into a suspenseful international thriller involving the byzantine workings of the Workers’ and Peasants’ State. Sington deftly manages to capture both that regime (cleverly reflected in the details of a toothpaste shortage) and the fickle intricacies of publishing, demonstrating his familiarity with each. A well-crafted novel that should attract readers of both literary and high-end genre fiction. --Mark Levine

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steve P on August 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book. It's a gentle, subtle read - unsensational but compelling. I kept turning then pages to see how it was all going to turn out. The author uses language beautifully and the story has been informed by his wife's memories of actually living in the GDR before the Berlin Wall came down. Definitely worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SoldierBoy on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Besides the rather intricate final denouement, the author presents an interesting story of a weak, unpleasant man who lives under the repressive East German regime. The protagonist is interesting in that he rationalizes all of his small betrayals and is forced by the society and his weaknesses to hide his real character from everyone else. An excellent picture of life under that repressive regime and how it distorts the characters of those who must survive in it.
I'm not certain what the negative reviews were hoping for - more breasts and explosions perhaps.
Liked it and will read it again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By robert w. dean on February 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The book is reminiscent in many ways of the film, "The Lives of Others." In highly original phraseology it explores the corruption of individual character and personal relationships by a totalitarian state. In this sense it's message and meaning are universal.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Kerns on January 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Valley of Unknowing is the sort of novel that once you've finished reading it you regret having to put it away in the bookshelf. Philip Sington has successfully combined a poignant love story with a seductive thriller.
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More About the Author

Philip Sington was born in Cambridge. His father was an industrial chemist and his mother an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). He studied history at Trinity College, Cambridge and then worked as a business journalist and magazine editor for nine years.

Between 1993 and 2001 he co-authored six novels under the joint pseudonym Patrick Lynch, selling well over a million copies worldwide. The third, 'Carriers', was adapted for the screen in 1998. He also co-wrote the stage play 'Lip Service', which was awarded 4 stars by 'The Scotsman' at the 2001 Edinburgh Festival.

His first solo novel, 'Zoia's Gold', was published in 2005. This was followed in 2009 by 'The Einstein Girl', which was a national bestseller in Germany, and by 'The Valley of Unknowing' in 2012. His work has been translated into twenty-one foreign languages.

Philip lives in London with his German wife, Uta, and their two children.

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