Books about life during the Third Reich used to be of 3 types: war stories, spy thrillers, or the tragic tales of the victims. In recent decades authors have begun tackling the portrayal of life for “regular” people during the Nazi occupation of most of Europe — They are now joined by
The Luck of the Weissensteiners, which takes place in Bratislava in Slovakia.
This fascinating book tells of the interwoven fates of two families. Greta, the daughter of the Jewish (but assimilated) Jonah Weissensteiner marries the gentile Wilhelm Winkelmeier and the couple begins their married life on the farm of Wilhelm’s stern relatives – Johanna and Benedikt. All of the characters are well-portrayed, but I found Johanna to be the most interesting, with her ever-shifting, ambiguous attitude toward the Jews in her life, paralleled by her capacity for both tremendous warmth and terrible coldness.
Though, as some reviewers have noted, the novel often drifts into history lesson mode, I was not bothered by that. Often when reading a historical novel I find myself distracted, wondering what was actually happening at the time, so I was pleased to have Mr. Fischer tell me.