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The Moment: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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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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Review

“An observant, compassionate, and romantic portrait.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kennedy is astonishing at communicating his characters’ emotional turmoil . . . and he tosses tough ethical questions our way as he ponders the ‘moment’ that could change everything—and the very nature of love.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“Kennedy’s narrative virtuosity drives a story that blends romance and thrills in the right proportion. . . . The sense of place is palpable.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The revelation in the middle is the kind of gut-punch that subverts everything its narrator has found out so far—without destabilizing the rich, dark novel in progress.”

The Onion’s A.V. Club

“The denouement will have you feeling about as intense as printed words can make you.”

The Times (UK)

“A passionate love story-cum-spy-thriller set amid the secretsand shadows of Cold War era Berlin.” —People --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #992,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Douglas Kennedy is the only author I know who just gets better with each novel, which may have something to do with the fact that he doesnt feel the need to churn a book out every year or stick to a formula or character. Each novel is unique. However there were moments when reading his latest that I wondered if this was the novel that was going to disappoint. It seemed slow and was a bit like watching paint dry. How wrong I was. At the conclusion he delivered the biggest sucker punch I have yet experienced through the written word. Not only did I cry (howl actually)all that night but it continued through to the next morning. How in god's name does he harness emotion to that extent let alone communicate it. The only time I have experienced anything similar was through reading Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" which left me convinced I had TB.

Douglas Kennedy is without doubt my favourite author. A monumental talent without peer. Incidentally I recently picked up one of his earlier 3 travel books "Chasing Mamon", which was good, but am grateful that he got into writing 'fiction'. I also recently read a non-fiction book by Anna Funder called "Stasiland". The author travelled to East Germany and interviewed various people about life under a Stasi police state. The facts in her book mirror situations and incidents in "The Moment". Which tells me that Kennedy does some very serious research. And now I only have to wait another two years for his next book (sigh)
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