7.10.15

CITY OF SHADOWS, by Ariana Franklin

I adore books that have a big surprise on the next-to-last page. It takes such careful plotting to pull it off, and that's one of Franklin's strengths. This is a mesmerizing, chilling, stand-alone book set in Berlin in the 20s and 30s. Packed with refugees, Berlin was decadent, its nightlife turbulent and catering to every interest, no matter how socially unacceptable. Esther Solomonova, a Russian  Jew scarred from a pogrom, is multi-lingual secretary to cabaret-owner and wheeler-dealer "Prince" Nick, who hears of a woman in an insane asylum claiming to be one of the murdered Russian princesses. Click below for more...
Esther, suspicious of both the woman's claim and Nick's plans, lets herself be sucked in to the plot. But the fearful woman claims someone is hunting her, and Esther comes to believe her. This is not only the tale of the rise of Nazis, the improbable and horrific dissolution of a country's society and culture, but a love story. My no-spoilers policy saves you from premature disclosure. It's a 5: atmospheric, historically accurate, compelling on so many levels. Read and enjoy.
Ariana Franklin died in 2011, a loss not only to family and friends but to the reading world.
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