The Blind Side of the Heart, By Julia Franck

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The Independent Culture

Framed by the story of a child abandoned in postwar Germany, this novel shows epoch-making events through the eyes of the people – above all the women – who bear their brunt. After a stolid Saxon girlhood and the traumas of the 1914-1918 war, half-Jewish Helene escapes to Weimar Berlin, an emancipated nurse breathing the air of freedom.

As the darkness of the Hitler era closes in, grim marriage to a pro-Nazi engineer links dictatorship at home and in the state. Franck, who drew on her family history for this winner of the German Book Prize, movingly matches private and public life in a novel attuned to every exercise of power – and every act of resistance. As ever, Anthea Bell translates with grace and tact.

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