A great honour in my eyes: The Historical Novel Society has accepted and reviewed THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS – Here is what they thought:
It is 1933. In the Slovak capital of Bratislava, Greta Weissensteiner is wooed and made pregnant by Wilhelm Winkelmeir. He is German and she is not. She is Jewish and he is not. Nevertheless they marry and so begins a story of Jews and Gentiles, Germans and non-Germans set amongst the upheavals of central Europe in the years up to, and through, World War Two. The relationships between Greta and Wilhelm, between the Weissensteiners and Winkelmeirs, change as the world about them changes. Their lives and deaths mirror those of millions who went through the tumultuous events of the times.
In The Luck of The Weissensteiners, Christoph Fischer paints a convincing picture. There is a great deal of social, economic, cultural, religious and political information; perhaps too much, but the story certainly doesn’t lack detail. Characters are plentiful and well-drawn, allowing for many issues and attitudes to be explored. In this regard, the story reminded me of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Vasili Grossman’s Life and Fate: extraordinary times seen through the eyes of ordinary people. But as with Tolstoy and Grossman, it would have been helpful had Christoph Fischer given us fewer names to learn and fewer relationships to remember. A list of characters would help. Fischer’s writing style too reminds me of books written long ago, or of translations from a foreign language. Perhaps this was intended to help convey a sense of time and place, but sometimes it felt stilted. Nevertheless, this is a book worth picking up. It’s not one that will keep you up all night until you get to the end; read it in instalments, digest it in bites. It’s not a bad thing in these days of instant gratification to chew slowly; the story has an interesting flavour and texture.
Here some more of the recent reviews – now a staggering 129 in total and still 4.7 stars on average:
Thank you Christoph Fischer. There was a gap in my understanding which has now been filled. I will definitely read your other books and I can highly recommend this book.
1. convincing readers that Jewish people were not really interested in their history and background
2. subtly downgrading Christians and their beliefs
3. promoting homosexuality.
The historical parts were interesting.
The Luck of the Weissensteiners (Three Nations Trilogy Book 1)
In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles in with the Winkelmeier clan just as the developments in Germany start to make waves in Europe and re-draws the visible and invisible borders. The political climate in the multifaceted cultural jigsaw puzzle of disintegrating Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and the families. The story follows them through the war with its predictable and also its unexpected turns and events and the equally hard times after.
But this is no ordinary romance; in fact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story. What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. This is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck.
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