Saturday, January 26, 2008

German grimness

22 is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. This is a gritty, no-holds-barred look at a German survivor of the war, and the awful things she had to do to survive that time. Every other chapter is set in the present and in the 1940s, contrasting a mother's determination to save her small daughter at all costs to herself, and the grown-up daughter's determination to uncover her past and who her father really was. The continual fear that the mother lives in while trying to survive the Nazi occupation is written starkly, and there is the confrontation of what would you do to help those in the concentration camps if it posed a threat to your child's survival. As a mother, this hit home all too closely. Although I have German ancestry from my father's side, those people left the motherland way before the 1940s. My husband has family still there, but I know I would never have the nerve to interview any elderly survivors.
To get over that grimness, I read What's A Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie (23), which is a light-hearted paranormal romance featuring M.J., a psychic ghostbuster, her very camp assistant Gilly who's afraid of ghosts, and her wise-cracking parrot Doc. Her studly client, Dr. Sable, has a house haunted by his grandfather and his mistress. Supposedly Dr. Sable is Argentinian who was educated in Germany and only speaks English in amusing mistakes. Okay, that wore thin after a chapter or two. I'm not even going to rant about the fact that if he's translating directly from German, his syntax would be all switched around. The sequel comes out in March 08, and if he's still "amusingly" asking if she's still giving him "the cold elbow", I think I'll pass on it.

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