For fans of The Light After the War, a young woman haunted by a heartbreaking secret finds hope and forgiveness in a city shattered by war.
Young Meike Mosbach and her brother escape Berlin just before the horror of Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister to follow them to America. But their family never arrives.
Haunted by their loss, Meike becomes Millie and graduates from college to work as a magazine journalist while David enlists in the army to work in intelligence. After the war, they both return to a shattered Berlin, hoping against hope to find their family.
Post-war Berlin is a wild west where drunken soldiers brawl, spies ply their trade and ‘werewolves’ – unrepentant Nazis – scheme to rise again. Consumed with rage at her former country, Millie’s job for the army rooting out Nazis from regaining a voice seems the perfect outlet. But her anger begins to thaw as she is faced with the daily reality of what the war has done to everyone, and the enigmatic Major Harry Sutton, who seems too eager to be fair to the Germans and far too perceptive about Millie.
In the rubble of post-war Berlin, Millie must come to terms with a devastating secret and find the courage to embrace love – and a new beginning.
Ellen Feldman is the acclaimed author of Scottsboro, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, which was translated into nine languages, Next to Love, Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting and Lucy. Last year, she captivated BR readers with Paris Never Leaves You, a heartbreaking and unforgettable wartime story of resilience and love. She returns to similar territory in Return to Berlin, but unlike her last novel, which was set in occupied France, this latest novel is set in the dangerous and broken world that is post-war Berlin.
The novel follows Millie as she assists the Americans with de-Nazification efforts and attempts to find out what happened to her family. Millie is a strong, resilient protagonist who is haunted by past trauma and suffering from survivor’s guilt. She often finds herself torn between hating the German people and recognising in them a shared sense of humanity. This empathetic portrayal of the Germans is typical of Feldman, who excels at creating nuanced characters that are not just black and white but many shades of grey. Through Millie’s story, Feldman examines a number of important topics, including anti-Semitism, survivor’s guilt, blame, and forgiveness – for both others and ourselves.
With Return to Berlin, Feldman has delivered yet another powerful and moving wartime story of love, sacrifice and forgiveness, cementing her place at the top of this genre.