Book review: The House By The Lake

THOMAS HARDING — author of Hanns And Rudolf — pulls off the admirable feat of showing us a new history of German’s troubled 20th century by focusing on the story of a small house near Berlin that once belonged to his family.

Thomas Harding

William Heinemann, €18.99

Harding’s grandmother had known the place as an idyllic holiday home but as the Nazis swept to power, the house was seized from its Jewish owners and sold at a knock-downprice to a well-known (and gentile) composer.

Harding decides to campaign for the restoration of a now derelict property as an important document in its own right.

But to do so, he must help his own surviving older relatives — now resettled in London — to confront their feelings towards the land which chased them out and murdered their kin.

With the narrative drive of a great novelist and the meticulous research of a great historian, Harding has crafted a moving, instructive and very important book.


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