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Eva's Cousin (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – December 2, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“An intimate portrait of two women at the center of history and how innocence itself can be a crime against humanity. My book of the year.”
—LINDA GRANT
Orange Prize-winning author of When I Lived in Modern Times
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345449061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345449061
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,313,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jana L.Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Eva's Cousin" is a work of fiction. Sibylle Knauss had always been interested in matters of German history and how they could be transformed into literature. Before beginning her novel, the author, had the opportunity to interview Gertrude Weisker, Eva Braun's real cousin and the model for her central character, Marlene. Eva Braun had indeed invited Ms. Weisker, 20 years-old at the time, to stay with her at Berchtesgaden in the spring of 1944, a year before WWII would end with Germany's unconditional surrender to Allied Forces, her cities, country and people laid waste. Hitler was away in east Prussia, waging war, and Eva was lonely - she needed to be amused. Although based on fact, many of the folks who people these pages are fictional, as are their stories. Essentially, however, Ms. Knauss captures the true characters of Eva, her cousin, and those who surrounded them, as well as the very ambiance of the Berghof itself, and the period, which represent, as Hannah Arendt worded it, "the banality of evil."

This is beautifully written, nuanced fiction, not an action-packed thriller, but I was riveted to the page even so. More dramatic and disturbing than the image of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, is one of the New Year Eve Ball, (1944-45), at the Platerhof Hotel in Obersalzberg, near Adolph Hitler's Bavarian mountain retreat. It was not a party for ascetics. Featured on the menu were: goose liver pate, larded saddle of venison, eels in aspic, Parma ham and overflowing bottles of champagne - all one could drink, and more. However, the hungry were not to be fed at this feast. The hungry and starving were in Auschwitz and Dachau. They were slave laborers in German factories. They were women and children throughout Europe. They were soldiers at the front.
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By A Customer on March 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I had to laugh when I read a couple of the reviews for this book, especially the one from the "top reviewer," who announced that the book was written by Eva Braun's cousin. And the other reader who felt cheated, not knowing what was true and what wasn't. It's very clear that this book is a NOVEL that was written by a German novelist -- and a very good one -- who happened to have met a cousin of Braun who had some of the experiences fictionalized in this book. It's a novel, folks -- so why are you searching for what was true and what wasn't? And pardon me to the so-called "top reviewer," but I never got the sense that I was expected to feel sorry for Eva, when clearly her own cousin (in the novel) was so conflicted about her herself. From almost the first page the author expresses her contempt for Eva. Marlene is a fascinating character, and we see the banality of evil through her eyes.
What a wonderful translation by Anthea Bell. Too often I am oblivious to the "greatness" of European literature because the translations are stilted and self-conscious. Not so here -- the flow of the narrative is seamless.
I'm disappointed that none of this author's other novels have been translated into English. But we're lucky to have this one. Don't let the negative reviews from people who clearly can't figure out what they're reading when they're reading it stop you from picking it up.
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Format: Hardcover
"Eva's Cousin" was my first experience reading a fictionalized German account of the events of World War II. The story is heavily character-driven, with a limited storyline. What stood out, for me, were the scenes in which an adult Marlene copes with her own feelings of fear and culpability that seem to arise from innocuous things. Being caught in the fog in one instance brought back a torrent of feelings for the adult Marlene, taking her back over 50 years to the time she spent as Eva Braun's guest and her own feelings as she observed the Nazi elite ignore what was really happening with the war.

This work has inspired me to look into additional German literature of this genre. "Eva's Cousin" is an introspective work, and I found it very effective despite some of the more contrived aspects of the plot. (Did Marlene really hide an escaped prisoner in the tea house?)
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By A Customer on March 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book was a pleasure to read. The language was masterfully crafted, a real tribute to both the author and the translator. The seduction of power in its many forms is considered by the protagonist who recognizes how those around her come under its sway but who, only in retrospect, sees its impact directly on her. As she progresses through the novel, she causes the reader to consider the essence of guilt and of shame and how they are tied together. In today's political climate, it is interesting to reflect on what the German populace knew during the World War II era and Knauss makes us reflect on that society's and our own society's responsibility for allowing cruel, totalitarian leaders to continue in power.
Three months after completing this book in our bookclub, we still find ourselves returning to this book as a point of departure for discussing our other readings.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a lot about World War II but this was an aspect that had never been covered in anything I had ever read. Eva Braun's cousin - how could I pass that up. I read about this book in BOOKMARKS magazine and after finding it in Amazon ' s used books I snapped it up. I have passed on to one friend who passed it on to another . . . It is a unique perspective on THE war. It's a pretty amazing book.
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