Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The List by Martin Fletcher

Monday October 15, at 1:00 PM

Discussion Leader: Edna Ritzenberg

"London, October 1945. Austrian refugees Georg and Edith await the birth of their first child. Yet how can they celebrate when almost every day brings news of another relative or friend murdered in the Holocaust? Their struggle to rebuild their lives is further threatened by growing anti-Semitism in London's streets; Englishmen want to take homes and jobs from Jewish refugees and give them to returning servicemen....
In The List, [NBC News correspondent ]Fletcher investigates an ignored and painful chapter in London’s history. The novel is both a breathless thriller of postwar sabotage and a heartrending and historically accurate portrait of an almost forgotten era...."                                                           (

Booklist Reviews
NBC special correspondent Fletcher (Walking Israel, 2010) makes his fiction debut with a moving novel based on his parents' lives. In London at the end of WWII, the Jewish refugees who settled there to escape Hitler are facing anti-Semitism in their new home. Edith and Georg, who are expecting their first child, spend their days looking for work and trying to learn the fates of the family members left behind in Vienna. Edith mends nylon stockings, while Georg, a lawyer, tries to find a suitable position. Battling the prevailing attitude that Jews are occupying real estate and filling jobs that should belong to returning British soldiers, they often wonder why they left Europe. Still, visits to the refugee center to check the lists of the dead and the missing remind them of their luck. A long-lost cousin, Anna, who survived the camps, finds them and moves in among the eccentric occupants of their boardinghouse. She befriends Ismail, an Arab from Cairo who is involved in mysterious business. The British occupation of Palestine and the Zionist efforts—including terrorism—to create a Jewish homeland are cause for both hope and feat. Fletcher has written a touching story that brings a little-known aspect of Jewish history to life. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews
Having fled the Nazis, a young Austrian couple in 1945 London discovers that for Jews like them, the war did not end with VE Day. While they desperately seek word on the possible survival or whereabouts of family members sent to concentration camps, petitions are being signed by anti-Semitics in their neighborhood of Hampstead to "send the aliens home"—ostensibly to clear space and jobs for returning British soldiers.Veteran NBC correspondent Fletcher's engrossing first novel, loosely based on his parents' story, captures a neglected piece of postwar history through the plight of the spirited Edith, who is seven months pregnant with her first child following a miscarriage, and Georg, a reserved lawyer reduced to making buttons for a living. When Edith's first cousin Anna unexpectedly arrives, traumatized by her time in Auschwitz, she raises hope, however dim, that other relatives will follow, maybe even Edith's father. It's a time when the horrific truths of the camps are not yet widely known or understood—and when lies about Jews, including the notion they have any "home" to return to—are passed off as truth. Drawn to Ismael, an Egyptian Arab who despite his seeming antagonism toward Jews has a habit of coming to their rescue, Anna slowly emerges from her personal darkness. The lightly veiled truth is that Ismael is actually Israel, part of a secret plot to assassinate British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin for his part in the blockade to limit the number of Jews allowed into Palestine. Fletcher (Walking Israel, 2010, etc.) is more convincing as a domestic observer than a spy/political-thriller writer. As fact-based as this book may be, the narrative is a bit too neatly tied up and cozy with coincidence for the novel to gain as much traction as it could have. But this is still a powerful, affecting work.
A post-Holocaust novel that should be required reading wherever lessons about the plight of modern-day European Jews are taught.
Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
In NBC special correspondent Fletcher's satisfactory first novel, Viennese Jewish refugees Edith and Georg Fleischer build their new life in 1945 London while Zionist revolutionaries plot an assassination that could jeopardize all asylum seekers in Britain. Living in a Hampstead boarding house, the Fleischers are expecting their first child while waiting to hear news of their relatives (most of whom perished in concentration or death camps) and find out whether they can stay in Britain. Edith's cousin Anna arrives, but her time at Auschwitz has changed her almost beyond recognition. After Edith makes a speech at a meeting about repatriation petitions, Georg becomes a target for retribution. The mysterious Ismael, an Egyptian Arab living at the boarding house, steps in to protect Georg, beginning an unlikely alliance. Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Lehi—a group considered to be freedom fighters, or terrorists, take your pick—plot to force out the British and open the border to any Jews who wish to enter. There are jarring shifts in point of view and shallow descriptions, but the novel's warmth and humor will have readers rooting for the Fleischers and the neighbors who, in the wake of horror, become their new family. (Oct.)
[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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