Publisher: Counterpoint Press, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Counterpoint Press for the TLC Book Tours
Why I Read The Book:
I wanted to read more about World Ward II. Plus, the premise of the story intrigued me. It’s a combination of historical fiction, thriller, and romance.
Synopsis from the book jacket:
The Third Reich’s obsession with the occult has led them to create the Compound of Scribes. Concealed in a converted mine shaft complete with rose-colored cobblestone streets and a continuously shifting artificial sky, the Scribes’ sole mission is to answer letters written to the dead—thereby preventing the deceased from pestering psychics for answers and inadvertently exposing the Final Solution.
As Germany falls apart at its seams, a letter arrives written by eminent philosopher Martin Heidegger to his optometrist and friend, a man now lost in the dying thralls at Auschwitz. The presence of Heidegger’s words—one simple letter in a place filled with letters—sparks a series of events that will ultimately threaten the safety and wellbeing of the entire Compound.
What I Liked:
- The way the book starts out:
Even though they often met for coffee, [philosophers Martin Heidegger and Asher Englehardt] enjoyed writing to each other about tilted moments: the hammer that’s so loose it’s head like a bird. The picture that’s crooked and makes the room seem uncanny. The apple in the middle of the street that makes you forget what streets are for. The thing made close because it’s seen at a distance. The sense of not being at home. Falling out of the world.
- That short note was written after a mishap in which Heidegger temporarily forgot what his reading glasses were used for. For me that paragraph set the stage in reading this story. It got me to thinking about the tilted moments – in the novel and in my own world. And then, Heidegger’s reading glasses became the pivotal point in the plot of the story.
- Thaisa Frank took real events, the Holocaust, and real people, Heidegger and others, and wove them together with her fictional people, places, and events. She created a story that is totally believable.
- I liked the copies of letters interspersed in the book. They are in a person’s handwriting and at the bottom is the typed English translation of the letter. They were heart breaking when I thought about how false they were.
- The book is extremely well written with an excellent, fast moving plot. It was interesting, at times scary, and an emotional read. I can’t read about the holocaust without being angry and sad.
What I Didn’t Like:
- It’s a minor point but, I would have preferred quotation marks around the dialogue. It was distracting for me.
- Just a suggestion: I could have used a little “cheat-sheet” telling me what was real and what was fiction.
About the author from the author’s website:
The fiction of Thaisa Frank, according to the New York Times, works “by a tantalizing sense of indirection.” The critic Don Skiles has described her stories as being “in the grand tradition of the fairy tale, the legend, the spell,” and the reviewer Rob Hurwitt has called her work “domestic magical realism.”
For more about Thaisa Frank visit her website at Thaisa Frank.com
My hunch is that this book will be on the “Best of 2010” lists for many book lovers. That should make iñt available at your local library. Heidegger’s Glassesis also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)