Marlene Dietrich Lived Here

by Eleanor Bailey

I found this a difficult book to get into but, having persevered, a strangely compelling study of the relationship of two brothers - their attempts to understand and come to terms with each other and with their lives - played out against a backdrop of twentieth century Berlin. But don't choose this if you are looking for an easy read.


When Max was nine years old he tied a plastic bag round his head. It was an experiment, he said. He wanted to see how long it took for him to stop breathing. His parents were listening to Erich play Schubert on the piano in the sitting room. His last flourish was interrupted by a loud bang from upstairs. Erich, aged 16, decided that if Max didn't die he would always upstage him.


East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Berlin Novels by Christopher Isherwood

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