At the end of a long and - according to her - extraordinary life, Elisabeth Rother has decided to write her memoirs. Dwelling lovingly on her aristocratic upbringing, she brushes aside her narrow escape from the Nazis with her Jewish husband and their perilous voyage to the New World of Weehawken, New Jersey. The subject that really consumes her - because what is a memoir if not a chance to even old scores? - is the waywardness of her impossible daughter, Renate, and granddaughter, Irene.
Renate persists in falling in love with geniuses who have bad table manners. She snubs a suitable career as a concert pianist to become New York's medical examiner, performing autopsies on the bodies of politicians whom death has harvested in the nighttime arms of their mistresses. Worse, she sleeps on unironed sheets. Irene brings pickled babies to school for show-and-tell, drops out (or is kicked out) in order to roam the world, refuses to address the problem of her nose with plastic surgery, and shows signs of enjoying sex. What is to be done with such women?
Written in the voice of the author's very real grandmother, this novel is, in the end, a surprising love letter to the complicated but sustaining bond between mothers and daughters.
Published: 18th October 2007
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Dimensions (cm): 21.5 x 14.5 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.483