'Little by little, Elsa leaked out of her enclosure, strayed out into every corner of the house ...In my bed at night, she switched places with me, she enjoying the softness of my bed, and I finding myself cramped up in her airless niche.'
This extraordinary novel is seen through the eyes of Johannes. An avid member of the Hitler Youth in the 1940s, he discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl called Elsa behind a false wall in their large house in Vienna. His initial horror turns to interest, then love and obsession. After the disappearance of his parents, Johannes finds he is the only one aware of Elsa's existence in the house, the only one responsible for her survival. Both manipulating and manipulated, Johannes dreads the end of the war: with it will come the prospect of losing Elsa and their relationship, which ranges through passion and obsession, dependence and indifference, love and hate. First published 2008.