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In this newly translated debut, Eva takes a job as a translator for what turns out to be the case brought to trial against a group of SS officers that worked at the death camps during WWII. Set in the 1960's, this novel reminds us that history plus time allows for the distance to forget & secrets always find a way to work themselves free.
Set against the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963, Annette Hess’s international bestseller is a harrowing yet ultimately uplifting coming-of-age story about a young female translator—caught between societal and familial expectations and her unique ability to speak truth to power—as she fights to expose the dark truths of her nation’s past.
If everything your family told you was a lie, how far would you go to uncover the truth?
For twenty-four-year-old Eva Bruhns, World War II is a foggy childhood memory. At the war’s end, Frankfurt was a smoldering ruin, severely damaged by the Allied bombings. But that was two decades ago. Now it is 1963, and the city’s streets, once cratered are smooth and paved. Shiny new stores replace scorched rubble. Eager for her wealthy suitor, Jürgen Schoormann, to propose, Eva dreams of starting a new life away from her parents and sister. But Eva’s plans are turned upside down when a fiery investigator, David Miller, hires her as a translator for a war crimes trial.
As she becomes more deeply involved in the Frankfurt Trials, Eva begins to question her family’s silence on the war and her future. Why do her parents refuse to talk about what happened? What are they hiding? Does she really love Jürgen and will she be happy as a housewife? Though it means going against the wishes of her family and her lover, Eva, propelled by her own conscience , joins a team of fiery prosecutors determined to bring the Nazis to justice—a decision that will help change the present and the past of her nation.
Translated from the German by Elisabeth Lauffer
About the Author
Annette Hess grew up in Hanover and currently lives in Lower Saxony. She initially studied painting and interior design, and later scenic writing. She worked as a freelance journalist and assistant director, before launching a successful career as a screenwriter. Her critically-acclaimed and popular television series Weissensee, Ku'damm 56 and Ku'damm 59 are credited with revitalizing German TV. She has received numerous awards from the Grimme Prize to the Frankfurt Prize to the German Television Prize. The German House is her first novel.
"A strong debut... the highlight is Eva, a complex and thoughtful woman who finds herself in the midst of a significant moment in history." — Publishers Weekly
“From the first page THE GERMAN HOUSE creates a movie in the reader’s mind and it doesn’t tear off until the last chapter.” — Der Spiegel / Literaturspiegel, Claudia Voigt
“No one knows how to turn contemporary history into perfect entertainment like screenwriter Annette Hess.” — Extra, Brigitte Bücher
“With the story of the young translator Eva, Annette Hess, like in her screenplays, makes contemporary history tangible, fills it with life. . . . The name Annette Hess warrants exceptional quality.” — Stern, Kester Schlenz
“It’s a rare thing to read a historical novel that feels so tangible and real. Here we are, almost 50 years later and far, far away from Frankfurt and yet the novel seamlessly transports us to a different time and place. Every scene is described like a painting so much so that we become part of the scene.” — Yedioth, Isreal
"Questions of complicity and culpability are resolved by prosecutors and daughters alike in Hess' reveal of large truths which are obscured by larger lies." — Kirkus Reviews