Vienna by Eva Menasse


Eva Menasse

A complicated family history, in novel form, narrated by an anonymous family member. The mixed Austrian - German - Jewish -Christian culture and the time-frame, Second World War to the present, make this family history particularly colourful. The incidents are not related in strictly chronological order and there is a huge cast of characters, many of whom are not given names - both which make this a challenging read. But it’s definitely worth perservering because although the story covers an unhappy period in Austrian history, it is, on balance, a cheerful book.

My father's birth was a precipitate delivery. He and a fur coat were sacrificed to my grandmother's passion for bridge, since although her labour pains were beginning she insisted on finishing the game. Except for a single dramatic occasion, my grandmother has finished every game she ever played in her life; breaking off in the middle of a game was unthinkable. Consequently she almost missed my father's birth as she sat playing cards. Or rather, that was why my father almost came into the world under a green baize card table, which would in fact have suited his character and way of life pretty well.
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