Tuesday, April 03, 2012

“Stones from the River” continued …

“Stones from the River” is a 1994 novel by Ursula Hegi. I read it then and was enthralled with the scope of her book. It is about a German village before, during and after World War II and chronicles the life of a dwarf named Trudi Montag and her relationships with the towns many characters and intrigues.

Recently I found a copy of the book at a yard sale and decided to re-read it. I enjoyed it just as much as I had the first time, almost 18 years ago! So, imagine my pleasure when I came across “Children and Fire” recently at my library and realized that (although written in 2011) it encompasses the same village and the same people as in Ms. Hegi’s 1994 book.

“Children and Fire” may be set in the same place but it is definitely not a sequel to “Stones from the River”. The entire novel centers around just one pivotal day, Tuesday, February 27th, 1934 in the small village of Burgdorf, Germany and one teacher, Thekla Jansen, whose ten year old students are being seduced by the pomp and promises of the early Hitler regime.

We read in amazement as Thekla, against her every instinct, is also lured into believing that book burnings and ethnic cleansing may have merit. It is only by the clever inclusion of 7 chapters dating back to 1899 and ending with 1933 that Ms. Hegi reveals the actual facts that Thekla herself does not know and which, in the last chapter, will shake her to the core.

Although not an easy book to read I, literally, could not put it down and (having been born in 1933 and remembering the WWII years vividly) I’m glad to see that the horror of those years is still alive in our current literature. I truly believe that if “we forget our past we are destined to relive it” !


Anonymous schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

When you mentioned the dwarf, I recalled I had read one or both of these books. I first learned about Dresden bombing from this book.

One thing on my "to do" list these days is to begin reading fiction again. I love biographies and tend to get stuck on them, which are also a kind of fiction I suppose.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Jacobs said...

It's time for me to re-read Stones from the River, too. Do you know that Ursula Hegi has written several books about Trudi Montag and the people of her town, including a children's picture book?

1:55 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

I think one of the most sobering things I experienced was going to the Holocaust Memorial in DC. It is something that I will not forget.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Oh I so agree Ginnie, we should learn from our mistakes.Both books sound fascinating!
Love Di ♥

5:19 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I've just put a library hold on the first book.

6:34 PM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

I read and enjoyed "Stones from the River" and didn't know about "Children and Fire." I will definitely look for it. thanks

4:51 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I will look for those, Ginnie. Happy Easter!

6:46 PM  

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