Being Polite to Hitler: A Novel

Being Polite to Hitler: A Novel

3.9 41
by Robb Forman Dew
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

After teaching and raising her family for most of her life, Agnes Scofield is tired of the routine. But how, at 51, can she establish an identity apart from what has so long defined her? Often eloquent, sometimes blunt, and always full of fire, the Scofield family is not one to keep its opinions quiet. As much as Agnes would like to, she can no more sidestep their

…  See more details below

Overview

After teaching and raising her family for most of her life, Agnes Scofield is tired of the routine. But how, at 51, can she establish an identity apart from what has so long defined her? Often eloquent, sometimes blunt, and always full of fire, the Scofield family is not one to keep its opinions quiet. As much as Agnes would like to, she can no more sidestep their adamant advice than she can step down as their matriarch. But, despite her reluctance to become even more entangled in the family web, Agnes is amazed to feel her life grow because of it.

In Being Polite to Hitler, Robb Forman Dew intricately details personal and family life in a moving, frank, and surprising portrait of post-World War II America.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A remarkable achievement, a vividly detailed and deeply textured mural of a century of American life....
Throughout the novel, Dew renders the political personal and the personal incandescent....She
zooms into the hearts and minds of her characters with the kind of acuity that reminds us why we read."—Rachel Basch, Washington Post"

Robb Forman Dew is a master at delineating the way the mundane and profound are joined at the hip, and Being Polite to Hitler in its portrait of midcentury America shuttles us smoothly from the most intimate heartbreak to events of interest worldwide, reminding us of the nearly infinite variations of grief, and solace, and how even the most conscientious and compassionate can leave emotional havoc in their wake."—Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway"

Robb Forman Dew is one of our great national treasures: a novelist whose keen and sympathetic understanding of human nature is matched by her elegant, beautiful prose. Being Polite to Hitler is an absorbing story in which many readers will find their own families, and their own selves."—Dani Shapiro, author of Family History and Devotion: A Memoir"

National Book Award winner Dew (for Dale Loves Sophie to Death) uses her signature elegant and often delightfully funny style to move seamlessly back and forth between the macro- and microcosm of the new America. Her latest should generate demand for the first two series titles as well."—Beth E. Andersen, Library Journal"

National Book Award-winner Dew wraps up the trilogy she began with The Evidence Against Her by considering, in ways both joyful and elegiac, the juxtaposition of the profound and the mundane through the years 1953 to 1973 in smalltown Washburn, Ohio.... Agnes is clearly a literary heir of Mrs. Ramsay, and the narrative, ranging freely not only among Agnes's sprawling family but also throughout her political and cultural milieu, owes a debt to Woolf. Particularly when read in conjunction with her other novels about Washburn, Dew's latest is an impressionistic portrait of a family and an age striving for clarity and understanding."—Publishers Weekly"

A winning, quietly lyrical account of a simpler time."—Lisa Kay Greissinger, People"

A novel that considers, as its provocative title suggests, how people can go on being pleasant in a world that is frequently terrible....It's in her careful delineations of the quotidian that Dew writes most piercingly....She is not interested in tormenting her characters; being human every day, she feels, is hard enough."—Suzanne Berne, The New York Times"

Dew's quietly powerful tale is riveting."—Good Housekeeping"

highly original.... Robb Forman Dew covers both the cosmic and the quotidian as she follows a formidably intermingled group of people in the town of Washburn, Ohio. The novel, which resides mostly in the 1950s until an acceleration near the end yanks everyone all the way up to 1973, beautifully chronicles the experiences of a widowed schoolteacher, Agnes Scofield, and those in her midst.... Dew's novels identify and describe not just a town and its people but the American mind-set at particular moments in time.... Dew also sprinkles her storytelling with inventively apt asides, as when a character explains how a dog's stomach can spontaneously twist, "the way a lemon drop is wrapped." This sort of casual juxtaposition is ingenious and surprising. Being Polite to Hitler is a deeply knowing novel—progressive, certainly, and at times quietly, thrillingly strange."—Meg Wolitzer, New York Times Book Review

Good Housekeeping
"Dew's quietly powerful tale is riveting."
Beth E. Andersen
National Book Award winner Dew (for Dale Loves Sophie to Death) uses her signature elegant and often delightfully funny style to move seamlessly back and forth between the macro- and microcosm of the new America. Her latest should generate demand for the first two series titles as well.
Library Journal
Lisa Kay Greissinger
A winning, quietly lyrical account of a simpler time.
People
Suzanne Berne
A novel that considers, as its provocative title suggests, how people can go on being pleasant in a world that is frequently terrible....It's in her careful delineations of the quotidian that Dew writes most piercingly....She is not interested in tormenting her characters; being human every day, she feels, is hard enough.
The New York Times
Lisa Kay Greissinger - People
"A winning, quietly lyrical account of a simpler time."
Suzanne Berne - The New York Times
"A novel that considers, as its provocative title suggests, how people can go on being pleasant in a world that is frequently terrible....It's in her careful delineations of the quotidian that Dew writes most piercingly....She is not interested in tormenting her characters; being human every day, she feels, is hard enough."
Jim Shepard
"Robb Forman Dew is a master at delineating the way the mundane and profound are joined at the hip, and Being Polite to Hitler in its portrait of midcentury America shuttles us smoothly from the most intimate heartbreak to events of interest worldwide, reminding us of the nearly infinite variations of grief, and solace, and how even the most conscientious and compassionate can leave emotional havoc in their wake."
Dani Shapiro
"Robb Forman Dew is one of our great national treasures: a novelist whose keen and sympathetic understanding of human nature is matched by her elegant, beautiful prose. Being Polite to Hitler is an absorbing story in which many readers will find their own families, and their own selves."
Meg Wolitzer - New York Times Book Review
"highly original.... Robb Forman Dew covers both the cosmic and the quotidian as she follows a formidably intermingled group of people in the town of Washburn, Ohio. The novel, which resides mostly in the 1950s until an acceleration near the end yanks everyone all the way up to 1973, beautifully chronicles the experiences of a widowed schoolteacher, Agnes Scofield, and those in her midst.... Dew's novels identify and describe not just a town and its people but the American mind-set at particular moments in time.... Dew also sprinkles her storytelling with inventively apt asides, as when a character explains how a dog's stomach can spontaneously twist, "the way a lemon drop is wrapped." This sort of casual juxtaposition is ingenious and surprising. Being Polite to Hitler is a deeply knowing novel--progressive, certainly, and at times quietly, thrillingly strange."
Rachel Basch - Washington Post
"A remarkable achievement, a vividly detailed and deeply textured mural of a century of American life....
Throughout the novel, Dew renders the political personal and the personal incandescent....She
zooms into the hearts and minds of her characters with the kind of acuity that reminds us why we read."
Rachel Basch - The Washington Post
"a remarkable achievement, a vividly detailed and deeply textured mural of a century of American life.... Dew deploys a dazzling number of narrative perspectives.... Dew zooms into the hearts and minds of her characters with the kind of acuity that reminds us why we read.... Throughout the novel, Dew renders the political personal and the personal incandescent."
Susan Salter Reynolds - Los Angeles Times
"If you've been reading Robb Forman Dew these many years, fiction and nonfiction, you know that she is, like her main character Agnes Scofield, the consummate matriarch. There is beauty and order in her sentences and in the lives of her characters. There is trauma, pain and uncertainty but also a community of spirit beneath all of her books.... This novel shows why history is supplemented and often surpassed by fiction, by the fleshing out, the empathy, the imagining of lives lived and lost in the not-so-distant past."
Jim Carmin - The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"And this is what Being Polite to Hitler is all about: a 20-year sliver of Agnes Scofield's life. Robb Forman Dew, who won a National Book Award in 1982 for Dale Loves Sophie to Death, has captured again, beautifully, the poetry of the everyday. Her narrative flows effortlessly from character to character, from voice to voice, as does her sense of time, from present to future to past and back again.... Dew's elegant words capture personalities so well, as well as setting.... In Being Polite to Hitler, with lush, graceful language, Robb Forman Dew reminds us that much of what we consider to be ordinary in our lives, in the end, turns out to be quite extraordinary."
Caroline Leavitt - The Miami Herald
"Dew follows 54-year-old Agnes Scofield through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, as she reinvents herself, navigating both the mine fields of rapidly changing country and family. Every sentence is a rhapsody.''
Jim Carmin
And this is what Being Polite to Hitler is all about: a 20-year sliver of Agnes Scofield's life. Robb Forman Dew, who won a National Book Award in 1982 for Dale Loves Sophie to Death, has captured again, beautifully, the poetry of the everyday. Her narrative flows effortlessly from character to character, from voice to voice, as does her sense of time, from present to future to past and back again.... Dew's elegant words capture personalities so well, as well as setting.... In Being Polite to Hitler, with lush, graceful language, Robb Forman Dew reminds us that much of what we consider to be ordinary in our lives, in the end, turns out to be quite extraordinary.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Caroline Leavitt
Dew follows 54-year-old Agnes Scofield through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, as she reinvents herself, navigating both the mine fields of rapidly changing country and family. Every sentence is a rhapsody.''
The Miami Herald
Meg Wolitzer
highly original.... Robb Forman Dew covers both the cosmic and the quotidian as she follows a formidably intermingled group of people in the town of Washburn, Ohio. The novel, which resides mostly in the 1950s until an acceleration near the end yanks everyone all the way up to 1973, beautifully chronicles the experiences of a widowed schoolteacher, Agnes Scofield, and those in her midst.... Dew's novels identify and describe not just a town and its people but the American mind-set at particular moments in time.... Dew also sprinkles her storytelling with inventively apt asides, as when a character explains how a dog's stomach can spontaneously twist, "the way a lemon drop is wrapped." This sort of casual juxtaposition is ingenious and surprising. Being Polite to Hitler is a deeply knowing novel—progressive, certainly, and at times quietly, thrillingly strange.
New York Times Book Review
Susan Salter Reynolds
If you've been reading Robb Forman Dew these many years, fiction and nonfiction, you know that she is, like her main character Agnes Scofield, the consummate matriarch. There is beauty and order in her sentences and in the lives of her characters. There is trauma, pain and uncertainty but also a community of spirit beneath all of her books.... This novel shows why history is supplemented and often surpassed by fiction, by the fleshing out, the empathy, the imagining of lives lived and lost in the not-so-distant past.
Los Angeles Times
Rachel Basch
a remarkable achievement, a vividly detailed and deeply textured mural of a century of American life.... Dew deploys a dazzling number of narrative perspectives.... Dew zooms into the hearts and minds of her characters with the kind of acuity that reminds us why we read.... Throughout the novel, Dew renders the political personal and the personal incandescent.
The Washington Post

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316018753
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
10/13/2011
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
470,611
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Robb Forman Dew was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For the past thirty years she has lived in Williamstown, MA, where she lives with her husband, who is professor of history at Williams College. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Dew is the author of the novels Dale Loves Sophie to Death, for which she received the National Book Award; The Time of Her Life; Fortunate Lives; The Evidence Against Her; and, most recently, The Truth of the Matter; as well as a memoir, The Family Heart.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Being Polite to Hitler 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
NJGranny More than 1 year ago
This is the third in a wonderful series about the Scofields of Washburn, Ohio - those in the clan, and those who marry in, and it was a treat, as were the first two books. It is truly like watching a dramatic series on Masterpiece Theater, one that you hope will never end (from Upstairs, Downstairs to Downton Abbey). The characters are life-like, the family problems and dysfunction are recognizable, the "feelings" expressed (on marriage, careers, parenting, relatives)are right on. It's the best possible fiction, the kind that transports you to another time and place while making you feel that you know the folks that are in its pages. This is the book that you want curl up with, and - finish at one sitting! Kudos to the author and a plea to keep them coming!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Humbee More than 1 year ago
Absolutely stunning novel so full of meaning and history that I could bearly read each page without wanting to stop, consider and take it in. This novel is wonderful reading; an uncompromising insight into family dynamics. Ms Dew's sense of plot and timing is seamless. Robb Forman Dew, a National Book Award winner, is an author whose ilk I have rarely experienced since college days in Classic American Literature. In fact, her book ought to be studied in colleges, it's that relevant today for understanding our social and political history, and its roots in post-WWII 1950's. This book stands shoulder to shoulder with those of Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf and Carson McCullers. "Being Polite to Hitler," is a story centered around the Scofield family of "small town" Ohio. Through them, Ms Dew renders a microcosmic view of how everyday people might react to critical transitions and social upheavals such as civil rights, womens' issues, the Rosenbergs, Werhner von Braun, the atomic bomb, the Russians and bomb shelters, just to name a few. The unrelenting exposure to one scenario after another as these people deal with the day-to-day threats and complexities of the 1950's and early 1960's, builds a tension in the reader and brings to mind our lives in contemporary America. Characterization is perfection with female characters such as Agnes, the matriarch, who isn't as staid and boring as her grown children might think. My personal favorite, Lavinia, is the random voice of "women's lib" on the verge, 'though still fraught with "...being better than the Joneses," and the new wealth and commercialism of the decade. All of Robb's characters are to be lauded for their individuality and believability. There is no question that Robb Forman Dew is a gifted writer whose work is rare and an edict for our times. Caught up in our everyday distractions we fail to "see" as the world and its complications spin by us. It is so much easier to be seduced into complacency by media which can lull us into believing, and cause us to be pacified if we blog or tweet, discuss the "situation" with our friends and family...or if we throw some money at it and pat ourselves on the back. Should we actually refuse to "be(ing) polite to Hitler," it would cut through our denial and require personal sacrifices, our actions, and true commitment. We might actually make a difference like Robb Dew and others who take a stand and stake their reputations on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"No prob..." *I cock my head* "Now what? I could be thing one you could be thing two?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Patrolls*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Night wing was attaced by a fox in the 8 result!!!! I was injureed too, but its not serious. HELP!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skyheart, who happened to be passing by, placed her tail on flutterpaws shoulder" Im sorry honey, but toxicpaw loves honeypaw, more than anyone, or anything, including you. I know that for a fact. I think you should move on, and find someone else" she meowed, gently.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She prepares cobwebs and marigold for Larkwing. -Berryleaf
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
True
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She mewed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fine. Ifmy broher dies tell me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Goodbye
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"K. Thanks!" She ran to the nursery.