Most novels about the Nazi period portray Germans as the perpetrators of war and genocide. This work provides an authentic insight into how ordinary Germans - distinguished only by their artistic skill - suffered under Nazi rule and the catastrophe of war.
Vividly told and deeply moving, it tells of one woman's struggle to survive.Based on letters, documents, interviews and on-the-ground research in Germany and Poland, the novel follows a young aspiring writer, Maria Scholz, from the time she arrives in Berlin in 1933 and meets sculptor Hermann Blumenthal. They were to become key members of a community of artists at the heart of Hitler's Berlin, part of an inner circle passively opposed to the Nazi regime and who were persecuted or declared 'degenerate'.
Philip Temple's gripping narrative describes how they tried to keep alive free-spirited creativity, and the values of a universal humanity, amid the growing terror of a police state, and it explores the tragedy that befell Maria as war brought the firebombing of Berlin and the Russian invasion.
This is Philip Temple's 8th novel and the newest addition to a remarkable array of work by someone who has been described as the most versatile writer in NZ. His earlier novels have been published overseas and he has won awards both here and elsewhere for his children's books, historical biographies and tv documentaries. He has also published photographic books, political works and walking track guides. Among various fellowships, Philip Temple has been the Robert Burns Fellow at the Uni of Otago, Katherine Mansfield Fellow at Menton and held the Creative NZ Berlin Writers Residency when he undertook the research for this book. In 2005 he was given a Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement. He lives in Dunedin with his partner, poet and novelist Diane Brown.