27 Jul 2014

Review and Interview: “The Night I Danced With Rommel” by Elisabeth Marrion

1 Comment Book Reviews

‘May I have this dance, Hilde?’ asked Field Marshal Rommel, opening the Grande Ball held in his honour.
Did this dance save the life of Hilde’s Polish friends? 17854077
Hilde had come a long way since her dream of becoming a singer was shattered when her father made arrangements for her to work as a housekeeper in Berlin at the tender age of fourteen.
Until then, although poor, Hilde led a happy and protected life with her family on their small-holding in East Prussia.
Hilde’s life is thrown into turmoil in Berlin during the late 1920’s, early 1930’s. Having Polish friends meant it was becoming increasingly unsafe for her to stay there and she finds a new life in the HarzMountains. This taking her still further away from her home and her beloved younger sister, Erika.
In Goslar, Hilde meets her husband, Karl, a young officer in the German Army.
When he joins the 7th Panzer Brigade led by General Erwin Rommel at the beginning of WW II, Hilde is left to bring up their children in war-torn Germany.
After Rommel’s promotion to Field Marshal, Karl follows him to Africa, later Italy and ultimately Karl is posted to the Russian front. Hilde’s story is based on facts and is told by her youngest daughter, Elisabeth Hilde’s story illustrates life for many Germans who did not agree with Hitler and his politics. It is a fictionalised beautiful memoir of an ordinary and yet remarkable young woman.
Well researched and written with immaculate attention to detail and characterisation this is moving as it is educational.
The personal tragedies and historic events intertwine and make for a very engaging and satisfying reading experience.

Interview with Elisabeth Marrion writer of the “Unbroken Bond” series

Tell me something about yourself.VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Elisabeth: I was born in Germany not long after WWII. My father was a corporal in the RAF, stationed in my home town, Hildesheim. There he met my mother, who had lost her husband on the Russian front, during the last days of the War.

Question: When did you move to England?

Elisabeth: It was in 1969. I only intended to stay for one year to improve my English, then another year and another year, and I am still here. I met my husband David. Together we formed an importing clothing Company. Through this company we worked many years in the Far East and the Sub Continent. We worked very closely with a manufacturing Unit in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We helped him to set up a school in the rural part of Bangladesh for further education. Something which was not been available in the rural areas at that time.

Question: Do you still have ties to Germany?

Elisabeth: My brothers and sisters still live there but not all in our hometown. I go over at least twice a year and my family come to stay with us here in England as well. They totally understand why I fell in love with it and stayed.

Question: What inspired you to write your first book?

Elisabeth: The Night I Danced with Rommel. Is my mother’s story. A story I grew up with. I always wanted to write down what she told me, just for my family really. But then I realized that not many people know what Life was like for normal families living in Germany during WWII. I then wanted to share her story with a wider Audience.

Question: At what stage did you decide to make the book into a trilogy?

Elisabeth: As soon as I put pen to paper, or as it is nowadays, fingers on keyboard, I knew it would be a trilogy. I call the series “Unbroken bonds™ the first book is Hilde’s story, the second book Liverpool Connection is Annie’s story and the third one Cuckoo Clock Esther’s story.

Question: Did you find it difficult to writer about Germany History whilst living in England?

Elisabeth: Since the books is written as a novel and not as a historical document it was not difficult at all, especially since it is my mother’s story. The only problem is German people do not like to talk about he war, and my generation did not learn anything about it at school. This meant I had do to a lot of research would was painful at times. Question: How well is the book received in England? Elisabeth: Surprisingly well. And what I find astonishing it is of interest to the elder and the younger Generation. Field Marshal Rommel was well respected throughout because of his humanity and his effort to end a pointless war.

Question: How ling did it take you to write and publish the first book?

Elisabeth: I was under a little bit of time pressure. I wrote it for my best friend Moe from Detroit, Michigan. At that stage she was already bedridden and my daily chapters I forwarded for discussion kept her going. I choose the self-publishing route, which meant that Mow could hold the book in her hands a week before she passed away.

Question: What are the second and the third books all about.

Elisabeth: Whereas the first book is family life and events in Germany, the second books follows Annie’s Life from leaving Ireland behind to find a better Life in Liverpool. Only things do not turn out as she and her friends had imagined. This book always featured my father a Corporal in the RAF and how he came to meet my mother in Germany. The third book Cuckoo Clock, tell Esther’s story, a young Jewish doctor having to leave Germany after the Kristallnacht 9 th November 1938

Question: Is there a message in your books?

Elisabeth: I would love my books to be read at school as part of their history lessons. Both, here in England and in Germany. I would consider it an honor to go and speak about them there.

Question: Has your book been translated into German?

Elisabeth: Yes, I was very lucky, a small German Main stream publishing house contacted me after reading the English book. It has now been released and the title Mein Tanz mit Rommel

Question: What books influenced your writing?

Elisabeth: I think it was Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Garimara Pilkington. The story of her mother, an Aboriginal Half cast (are you allowed to say that?) who was taken by the British from her home in Australia and sent to Perth. She escaped, twice, and walked home following the Rabbit proof fence.

Question: What are your favorite books, films, Albums

Elisabeth: As a teenager, I loved reading Novels and plays by Oscar Wilde, Thornton Wilder, Ernest Hemingway and short stories by Guy de Maupassant. Also I am always fascinated by books which are based upon true stories, such as books about Russia, such as Cancer Ward books by Solzhenitsyn. Film which one could I see again and again, besides Rabbit proof fence? There are many, you might get the impression I am a simpleton (Am I allowed to say that?) but I like films such as Heaven can wait , with Warren Beatty. It makes we love every time. I like many films but would I want to see them again? One thing I do not like, if I read the book I would not often watch the film afterwards because I already envisaged the characters.

Question: Tell me what is your life like when you don’t write?

Elisabeth: On retirement we moved to the South of England and live opposite the Isle of Wight. I love getting up really early, listen to the news with a fresh cup of coffee and be out for a long run before breakfast. I love running; I have run in three London Marathons and one in New York. Like most people I love to travel and I was lucky enough because of my work, to spent a lot of time in the Far East, middle east and the sub-continent.

Question: That brings me to the question, if you are going to a remote island what would you take along and who would you be taking with you.

Elisabeth: Honest? I thinks I would take all the books by Solzhenitsyn and Guenther Grass plus I think all the book by Erich Kaestner, he was one of the banned writers during the ‘Third Reich’. Whom would I take with me? A hypothetically question, correct? No offence to my husband or mother. I would take my best friend Moe. We could have endless discussions.

Question: If you invite just one guest to a dinner party who would that be and why? What would you cook?

Elisabeth: I invite Golda Meir. I would love to hear her life story. What would I cook? That is a difficult question because I know little about her customs. I think Kohlrouladen with boiled potatoes. One of my favorite dishes anyway.

Question: If I would ask your friends what is your best Quality and your oddest.

Elisabeth: Without a doubt they would they I am a great organizer. I cannot stop organizing. My friends over the years have become used to it. Oddest? That would describe it straight away. They certainly think I am odd. Who else would walk through their village, the day after they move in, in their underwear walking the dog, introducing themselves to her new neighbours. (Alright I forgot my jogging shorts on that occasion. But the village never recovered, o so I thought.) Later on I was elected the chairperson of the village committee. You have to be odd to take that job.

Elisabeth thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Elisabeth: It was a pleasure, thank you for asking me along

The Night I danced with Rommel on Amazon US and Amazon UK 
The Liverpool Connection on Amazon US and Amazon UK 
Mein Tanz mit Rommel on Amazon.de

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

One Response to “Review and Interview: “The Night I Danced With Rommel” by Elisabeth Marrion”

  1. victoria dougherty says:

    Love this!

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