Friday, May 23, 2014

Dancing with Eva by Alan Judd

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Local Library
Read: May 23, 2014

A beautifully controlled, utterly gripping recreation of the final days in Hitler's bunker and their terrifying legacy, told from the intimate point of view of one of Eva Braun's secretaries In April 1945 Hitler's bunker in Berlin was the last place Edith Mecklenburg wanted to be. But Edith had no choice: as secretary to Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress and, for a few final, desperate hours, his wife, Edith had to see it through to the bitter end. Edith was one of the lucky few; she not only got out alive but made a new life for herself in England. Sixty years later, she is now a widow and grandmother, and the bunker is almost forgotten. But the past has not forgotten her. Hans, a soldier she knew from those dark days, has written asking if he may visit. Obsessed with the war, he has spent the intervening decades tracking down all who were there, and who survived. In her reluctant raking-over of old coals, Edith finds embers that still burn, and in the act of remembrance a very current threat.

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I thought Alan Judd's Dancing with Eva had a lot of potential when I first discovered it, but the reality was a bit of a letdown. And by bit, I mean my first thought on finishing the book was a self-congratulatory felicitation on not having thrown the book at my wall.

Thematically speaking, there are a few interesting things going on in this piece, but the style and tone of the narrative left me bored and disinterested. The fact that I didn't care Edith or Hans severely inhibited my enjoyment of the novel, and I can't say Judd's interpretation of Eva or Adolf was noteworthy or in any way memorable. And the surprise twist at the end… can you say anticlimactic? 

When push comes to shove, I'm glad I pushed through the book, but that said, Dancing with Eva is not something I'm inclined to recommend.  

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It must be said, because otherwise we fall into the habit of ignoring it, as if it were simply the weather one expects at that time of the year. 
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