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Aimee & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943 Paperback – October 1, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Acclaimed in Germany and England, this tragic and remarkable real-life love story won a Lambda Literary Award when it was first published in America in 1995. Lilly Wust ("Aimée") was a conventional middle-class mother of four, estranged from her philandering husband, when she met Felice Schragenheim ("Jaguar") in 1941. Their passionate affair unfolded against the backdrop of the deportation of Jews from Berlin, but several months passed before Felice could even bring herself to tell Lilly that she was Jewish and living illegally on the streets. "I knew, of course, what it meant," Lilly recalled in old age. "Not for a moment did I think that I too could be in danger. On the contrary, all I wanted to do now was to save her." Lilly's heroic efforts to conceal and protect Felice through the next two years make for painful and inspiring reading. Felice was arrested in August 1944 and sent her last letter to Lilly four months later. In 1981 Lilly was awarded the German Federal Service Cross, though no one could read this as a happy ending. --Regina Marler

From Publishers Weekly

This book doesn't seem to realize it is less about lesbianism and love than it is a jolting social history?achtung. It purports to be a tender wartime memoir of two Berlin lesbian lovers, one of whom turns out to be perhaps the most ordinary woman in Nazi Germany. It is hard to put down. Our sympathy is tapped because one of the lovers, Felice Schragenheim (Jaguar), is a U-boat?a Jew living underground. Fischer, a Viennese feminist and journalist, pieces together diaries, interviews, reminiscences?sometimes self-serving in the extreme on the part of their authors. For instance, 80-year-old Elisabeth Wust (Aimee) swears in interviews with the dubious Fischer that she didn't now what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, yet the instant Soviet troops tramped into Berlin, she passed off herself and her four kids as Jewish. Her husband, a Nazi officer, was swallowed up on the eastern front while Aimee dallied with every Heinz, Dick and Harry who crossed her threshold, as well as women lovers. The diary entries of Elisabeth reflect the unreflective, self-centered musings of a hausfrau that are in their own way as revealing of the Gotterdammerung of Nazi Germany as any report by a minister of state. Tumbling into obscurity in the postwar years, Elisabeth hangs on to her love for the lost Felice, and all that spent passion comes across as simply obsession.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555834507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555834500
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
The most shocking-- and delightful-- aspect of this book is its refusal to sink into our notions of the conventional love story. While involving unconventional characters, I still expected it to be a 1943 Berlin version of _Love Story_. Thankfully, it is not. There are no happy endings in any sense, as Fischer does not deify either character and refuses to expunge parts of the story that sully either Lilly or Felice. There are problems, fights, questions of motivations. After reading this book, you will remain lost in a world of "why"s and "what if"s.
Fischer provides an historical account that, unlike many, is inhabited by multi-dimensional people that both intrigue and frustrate.
One of the best books I have ever read. I can not stop thinking about it.
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Format: Paperback
In 1995 when I worked for HarperCollins (the hardcover publisher of Aimee & Jaguar), I had the amazing experience of co-editing Edna McCown's brilliant translation of this book from the original German. In an industry rife with commercialism, at a time when the reasons why I became an editor were becoming murky, I found myself working on this book that would remain an enormous part of who I am both personally and professionally. The story of Felice Schragenheim and Lilly Wust is a time-honored classic tale of a love that defied all obstacles, from the horrific devastation of the Holocaust, to the proscribed confines of society, to the simple passage of time. I can think of no greater gift that any one lover can give another than to tell their story, the way Lilly Wust did, after more than half a century of silence. Although she died more than 50 years ago, Felice Schragenheim will always be alive in the hearts of readers of this book, and in the hearts of all those who see the movie when it comes out here in the US. Aimee & Jaguar is at once an inside look at "underground" life in Berlin during Nazi Germany, a look at two very different women who came together under the most bizarre of circumstances, and ultimately a testament to the strength of love in the face of adversity. And I'm sure that Lilly's "Rosenkavalier" is looking down, smiling at the fact that, as she predicted, they "would always be together." I hope this story moves other readers as much as it moved and continues to move me. There is nothing quite like it.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not entirely sure what the author's purpose was in writing this book, because it certainly wasn't approached with any objectivity. The story is a touching one, very moving and ultimately heartbreaking, and the love Lili and Felice shared seemed to me intense and sincere. But in the epilogue the author admits she dislikes Lili, and feels she can more easily identify with Felice, basically because they are both Jewish. She feels somehow insulted that Lili aligned herself more closely with Jewish people after the war, and it is here that the author's attitude really left a bad taste in my mouth. In the book Lili relates that after the war other Germans distanced themselves from her because she had helped Felice and others. By looking askance on Lili because she was a German woman married to a Nazi and who could therefore never really have been a victim is showing exactly the same kind of prejudice, just in a different form. As far as Fischer self-righteously refusing to recognize Lili as a victim, all I can say to that is that Lili lost the woman she loved, so I'd have to disagree. Also, by taking Felice into her home, and later sheltering other Jewish women, Lili did much more than most people during that time, people who in most cases simply chose to look the other way.
In sum I'd say this book is definitely worth seeking out - but I'd rather it had been written by someone without an obviously prejudicial axe to grind.
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Format: Paperback
If, like me, you picked up "Aimee and Jaguar" because you enjoyed the film -- be prepared that the book is quite a different animal.
Rather than a straightforward narrative film, the book is a histography -- more like a documentary using letters and interviews to reconstruct the story of Lilly and Felice. While not terribly satisfying for those seeking an experience similar to the film, it is nonetheless a worthy read, and satisfying for those seeking to find out 'what is true' in the film as well as more information on what happened to Felice after she was captured by the Gestapo.
I tend to agree with the previous reviewers who were startled at the epilogue. I think information on her difficult relationship with Lilly would have been more honestly conveyed in a prologue and to simply denouce her simultaniously as Nazi sympathizer and Jew-wannabee seems unnecessarily harsh. As for her opinion that Felice would have likely left Lilly had she lived, there does seem some evidence that their relationship might not have had staying power (hinted at in the film as well), such as Felice's relative youth (21) and various attempted and successful daliances with other ladies while she and Lilly were together -- Lola for certain and quite possibly Inge as well. I don't think it's entirely unfair for the author to state her opinion on the longevity of their relationship, but it is in poor taste, particularly in the context of a general denoucement of Lilly's character.
Overall, a quite a good book. Recommended.
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