In 1938, seventeen-year-old Beatrice, an Irish Protestant lace maker, finds herself at the center of a fairy tale when she is whisked away from her dreary life to join the Berlin household of Felix and Dorothea Metzenburg. Art collectors, and friends to the most fascinating men and women in Europe, the Metzenburgs introduce Beatrice to a world in which she finds more to desire than she ever imagined.
But Germany has launched its campaign of aggression across Europe, and, before long, the conflict reaches the Metzenburgs’ threshold. Retreating with Beatrice to their country estate, Felix and Dorothea do their best to preserve the traditions of the old world. But the realities of hunger and illness, as well as the even graver threats of Nazi terror, the deportation and murder of Jews, and the hordes of refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army begin to threaten their existence. When the Metzenburgs are forced to join a growing population of men and women in hiding, Beatrice, increasingly attached to the family and its unlikely wartime community, bears heartrending witness to the atrocities of the age and to the human capacity for strength in the face of irrevocable loss.
In searing physical and emotional detail, The Life of Objects illuminates Beatrice’s journey from childhood to womanhood, from naïveté to wisdom, as a continent collapses into darkness around her. It is Susanna Moore’s most powerful and haunting novel yet.
About Susanna Moore
Susanna Moore is the author of the novels The Big Girls, One Last Look, In the Cut, Sleeping Beauties, The Whiteness of Bones, and My Old Sweetheart, and two books of nonfiction, Light Years: A Girlhood in Hawai’i and I Myself Have Seen It: The Myth of Hawai’i. She lives in New York City.
In 1938 County Mayo, bookish 18-year-old Beatrice is desperate to escape her humdrum life. So she is thrilled when a visiting German countess, impressed by Beatrice’s lace work, offers to take her to Berlin as a lace maker for the fabulously wealthy Metzenburgs. Countess Inéz is unaware that the German government, angry with Felix Metzenburg for refusing an ambassadorship, has requisitioned the Metzenburgs’ elegant home. Soon, they decamp to their rural estate with their fabulous collection of art and objects in tow, along with Beatrice and a couple of their most loyal retainers. For the next seven years, Beatrice bears witness as the Metzenburgs attempt a life of grace despite the war. At first, it is hard to tell whether Felix is a man of scruples or just “exquisite taste” and extremely good manners. But details accrue: his protection of the Jewish intellectual who teaches German to a smitten Beatrice, the odd mix of guests who pass through, the treasures he hides for friends and those he trades for food, the refugees he takes in. By the time conquering Soviets take Felix away for questioning, he has become a saintly figure in Beatrice’s eyes. Meanwhile, Felix’s devoted wife, Dorothea, whose Jewish heritage is an open secret, becomes a tough survivor, as does Beatrice herself. And then there’s Inéz, captivating but elusive. Actually Cuban (and Felix’s former lover), she divorces her German count for an Egyptian prince but continues to flitter in and out of Germany. Maddeningly selfish and superficial but surprisingly generous, she leaves Beatrice wondering, is she WWII-era Eurotrash or a skillful spy? – Kirkus Reviews
‘The Life of Objects’ by Susanna Moore
The Washington Post Book Review – September 14, 2012 (Excerpt)
In the late 1930s, young Beatrice Palmer lives in Protestant Ireland with an ineffectual father and a mother who hates her bitterly; Beatrice can’t tell why. She’s been lucky in her childhood, though. She’s attached herself to a Mr. Knox, who tutors her in mythology and teaches her about birdwatching. In other words, he shows her that there are other, better existences than the one she endures at home with her toxic mother.
There’s something reminiscent of a fairy tale about Susanna Moore’s affecting new novel, “The Life of Objects.” When Beatrice comes upon some thread traditionally used to make Irish lace, she teaches herself the craft. She has more than a natural gift, and it isn’t long before a mysterious, beautifully dressed young woman asks her if she’d be interested in taking a job as a lacemaker for a prominent German family. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.