Thursday, June 10, 2021

"The Girls in the Attic"

Marius Gabriel was accused by Cosmopolitan magazine of ‘keeping you reading while your dinner burns’. He served his author apprenticeship as a student at Newcastle University, Britain, where, to finance his postgraduate research, he wrote thirty-three steamy romances under a pseudonym. Gabriel is the author of many historical novels, including the bestsellers The Designer, The Ocean Liner, and The Parisians. Born in South Africa, he has travelled and worked in many countries, and now lives in Lincolnshire.

Gabriel applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Girls in the Attic, and reported the following:
This is one of those cases where opening to page 69 would indeed cut to the heart of my novel. About halfway down the page the reader will find this passage:
Without knowing quite why, Max got to his knees beside her and locked his fingers together, closing his eyes. He tried to remember the words of prayers, so he could ask for some consolation for Lola and Heidi. It had been so long, and only disjointed fragments swam into his mind. He couldn't piece them together in any coherent way, so he groped for words of his own, words of apology, of regret, expiation. He could find none. Between his father's arrest and this spring of 1944 there lay a violent wasteland that should have been his youth, that should have been his life. How could any words take that away? How could any prayer restore to him the lost years, the lost innocence? Who would forgive him for the things he had done?

He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, and opened his eyes. Lola was leaning forward, looking into his face with a strange expression. 'What are you doing?' she asked quietly.

'I don't know,' he said. 'Trying to pray, I think.'

She touched his face. Her fingers came away wet. 'You're crying.'
It describes one of the two central characters, a young German tank officer named Max Wolff, beginning to come to terms with what Nazism has done to him—and what he has done in its name.

We are in the last, terrible year of World War II. Germany is being invaded by the Americans and the British in the west, and by the Russians in the east. Bombers are smashing German cities to ruins every night. And through his love for a hunted Jewish girl, Lola Rosenstein, Max is beginning to realize that Hitler and the war itself are part of a madness that has gripped the German people.

In this passage, Max is on his knees, commemorating the deaths of Lola's parents at the hands of the SS. He desperately wants redemption for his participation in the war, but doesn't know how to obtain it. The only salvation he can find for the time being is Lola's light touch on his shoulder.

And there is a long way to go yet…
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--Marshal Zeringue