The Girl from Berlin by Ronald Balson

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The Girl from Berlin by Ronald Balson

Post by Ricordanza » Sat Apr 11, 2020 11:13 am

The device is familiar—a story within a story—but it is used very effectively by Ronald Balson in this novel. The “outer” story involves a husband and wife team (featured in four of his previous novels), lawyer Catherine and investigator Liam, who are dispatched to the Tuscany region of Italy to try to save an elderly widow from being evicted from her villa and vineyard. Rather than telling them directly about the background of her case, the widow instructs them to read a memoir by Ada Baumgarten, a Jewish girl and violin prodigy who grew up in Berlin in the 1920’s and 1930’s. At first, this “inner” story seems totally disconnected from the widow’s plight, but we keep reading because the tale is so engrossing.

CMG members will be particularly fascinated by this memoir, since the references to classical music are frequent, well-researched and authentic. The author includes some real characters--most notably, conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler--along with the fictional characters. But any reader with an interest in history will be totally immersed in this tale. Eventually, of course, the memoir draws a connection which helps Catherine and Liam save their client’s home. This is a good read.

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