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by Julia Franck

Certain words sprang to mind when I finished this story - vulgar, sad, angry and disturbed. It makes no difference where a child is born or under what circumstances - all children need a mother's love. Ella, Thomas and the twins didn't. They had Kathe, a mother who was selfish, political and unloving. Yes, life was difficult in East Germany but made more so with Kathe's coldness to her children which led to a tragic ending.


Go on, you can tell us everything. It will be to your advantage. If you work for us you'll get your school-leaving certificate. That's an offer. Ella's eyelid was trembling, some of the slimy stuff was caught on it. Fluid, anyway. With all the information he had, didn't the lodger know that she had hardly ever been to school in the time before Christmas, and since Christmas she hadn't been there at all? What was she to say about which teacher, and who to? The slimy stuff was dripping from her eyelid to her cheek. Ella didn't want to soil her sleeve with it. She stood up and tore off a piece of the newspaper that was stacked beside the lavatory instead of proper toilet paper. Carefully, she dabbed the slimy stuff off her eyelid. Who needed proper toilet paper? Did everyone in this house have a regal, velvety soft behind?
Translated by Anthea Bell


Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews

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