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- KurzbeschreibungA San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
The Empire of the Senses is an enthralling tale of love and war, duty and self-discovery. It begins in 1914 when Lev Perlmutter, an assimilated German Jew fighting in World War I, finds unexpected companionship on the Eastern Front; back at home, his wife Josephine embarks on a clandestine affair of her own. A decade later, during the heady, politically charged interwar years in Berlin, their children-one, a nascent Fascist struggling with his sexuality, the other a young woman entranced by the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age-experience their own romantic awakenings. With a painter's sensibility for the layered images that comprise our lives, this exquisite novel by Alexis Landau marks the emergence of a writer uniquely talented in bringing the past to the present.
- AutorAlexis Landau
- VerlagRandom House LCC US
- Seiten496 Seiten
- Gewicht367 g
The Eastern Front, August 1914
At first, the men were drunk off the euphoria of leaving Berlin, dreaming of virgin battlefields, singing and sharing flasks of whiskey when night fell. But Lev could not join in, blocked by a numb indifference that had settled over him as he observed the others with a clinical eye, picking apart their features, imagining how grotesque some of these men would appear if he sketched them asleep, their open mouths inviting flies. Yes, he'd volunteered when war was announced-but that day, only two days ago, already appeared fantastical, full of heated parades and brass bands, too much drink, his oxford shirt sticking to his chest in the humid air, and Josephine, waiting for him at home in the shaded courtyard, clutching her hat in her hands. She'd nearly ruined it, the one with the velvet flowers. He gently took it away from her and explained how he'd volunteered, to ensure he'd be called up first, to ensure no one would accuse him of shirking. He had said no one darkly because they both knew whom he meant-her mother and father, her brother, her whole Christian family, who despised him because he was a Jew. Even after seven years of marriage, seven biblical years, they hated him.
Josephine had blinked back tears, mumbling something about how perhaps a shortage of equipment would delay his leave.
No, no, he said. It wouldn't. "And where did you hear that, about lack of equipment?"
He suppressed a laugh. "Still consulting your housemaid on such matters?"
Lev nodded, trying to sympathize, but really, procuring information from Marthe? Large bumbling Marthe, who, although she expertly ironed the bedsheets and brought in afternoon tea at three o'clock sharp, never forgetting the lemon wedges, knew nothing of military matters.
Josephine brushed a hair out of her eyes. "But why must you go directly?" Here she was, acting like a girl of eighteen when at twenty-five she had already suffered the agonies of childbirth, twice, giving him Franz and then Vicki. The children were asleep, napping in the nursery. Soon Marthe would wake them. He pushed away the thought of their warm sleepy bodies, of how they clung to him when they woke, as if he might slip away, as if they had already dreamed this. Tonight, Lev would explain his departure to Franz, who, at six, would understand, and Vicki, only four, who might not. After he went, Josephine would weave a grand story they could all believe, a story repeated over dinner and again at bedtime. A story that would lessen the blow of his absence
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