This was a really marvelous book. It was extremely well written, with engaging characters, and a compelling plot. I don’t believe that I have ever read a book about Germans (as opposed to Jews) during World War II -- are there many that are even available in English? The lead character is Trudi, who is a dwarf (a Zwerg, in German). Her zwerg-ness makes her different, an outsider, and as such, an observer of the lives of others. It is through her eyes that we follow the lives of the townspeople in the years leading up to and through the war. This is a gentle story, lacking any one great dramatic moment, but filled with small moments of drama and pathos. It’s a long book, and a slow read, which only extends the pleasure.
Hegi has written another book about Trudi's village, set in the 1950’s (Floating in my Mother's Palm). It’s not clear to me whether that book is a sequel to this one, or a separate story. She also has a third novel set in the US, about some other members of Trudi’s family (The Vision of Emma Blau). I want to read both of these (and the rest of her books, too). I feel as though I have discovered a really wonderful new (new to me, I mean) author, and I’m very excited.
Here is a review from bookreporter.com, with more of a plot summary than I've given here.
(Book 16, 2006)