Journey to Nowhere, By Eva Figes

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The story in this memoir is not so much Eva Figes's as that of a young woman who was once her family's servant, back in 1930s Berlin. Edith has no surname in this book because no one, including Figes, ever asked her what it was. Born in an orphanage and taught enough to be able to make a living as a housemaid, Edith's life was singularly hard. But perhaps Edith's invisibility as a poor worker was what saved her. For when Figes's family fled the Nazis and came to Britain, Edith was left behind. She worked intermittently, and hid in the homes of kind protectors. She miraculously survived both the Nazis and the Russian rape of Berlin, only to be left alone and lonely at the end of the war. She was then taken up by a zealous young woman promoting the new Israel.

Edith headed there full of hope, as many Jews no doubt did. But it is her subsequent devastating disillusionment with the new state, "where everyone hates everyone else", that really fuels Figes's personal, angry, powerful polemic against what is taking place in that region right now.

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