The Escape

Adam Thirl­well
  • Review
By – September 26, 2011

Can any­one tru­ly escape the past? Can you leave your fam­i­ly and your his­to­ry behind and just pro­pel your­self out into the future? Ask Haffn­er, the Jew­ish British hero of this col­or­ful, intense, and dark­ly humor­ous nov­el, and you’re like­ly to get one answer from him and intu­it anoth­er for your­self. Because no mat­ter how hard he tries, no mat­ter how fast he runs, bark­ing at his heels come the peo­ple and the sto­ries and the past he is try­ing so des­per­ate­ly to forget. 

The nov­el begins to take shape in a vil­la snug­gled com­fort­ably into the moun­tains of a spa town in the east­ern Alps. It is Haffner’s wish to claim this vil­la as his own, an inher­i­tance he feels he deserves. The quest for it will take him through affairs with two very dif­fer­ent women and numer­ous fights with irri­tat­ing but pow­er­ful bureau­crats, all played out against the back­drop of his inescapable mem­o­ries. The dom­i­nant cul­ture and mores of those who expe­ri­enced the major upheavals of the 20th cen­tu­ry — World War II, the Dias­po­ra— are explored through the actions and emo­tions of the characters.

This is the sec­ond nov­el from the award­win­ning British author of the high­ly suc­cess­ful Pol­i­tics, which has been trans­lat­ed into 30 languages.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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