Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman [NOOK Book]

Overview

Rome one January afternoon in 1943. A young German woman is on her way to listen to a Bach concert at the Lutheran church. Innocent and naïve, the war is for her little more than a day-dream, until she realizes that her husband might never return.
This is a mesmerizing psychological portrait of the human need to safeguard innocence and integrity at any cost - even at the risk of excluding reality.

A literary ...

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Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman

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Overview

Rome one January afternoon in 1943. A young German woman is on her way to listen to a Bach concert at the Lutheran church. Innocent and naïve, the war is for her little more than a day-dream, until she realizes that her husband might never return.
This is a mesmerizing psychological portrait of the human need to safeguard innocence and integrity at any cost - even at the risk of excluding reality.

A literary masterpiece by one of Germany's most renowned contemporary writers.

THE GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2010

"The book's last paragraph, overtly expressing nothing more than the young woman's intention to write a letter, is one of the most moving conclusions I've ever read." Nick Lezard, The Guardian

"What a superb translation. This extraordinary and eloquent novella, a true tour de force, has made me long to find more of Delius's work straightway." Miranda Seymour, author

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Editorial Reviews

Cameron Martin
This distinct and lovely novella by Delius, a celebrated German novelist and poet, is one long run-on sentence, its transitions marked by poetic enjambments and numerous non sequiturs. Yet in Bulloch's fluid translation the story never loses clarity, and the design reinforces the shape of the narrative…
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Despite well-executed lyricism and a strong sense of time and place, this slender fiction, Delius’s first to receive an English translation, manages to feel both padded and inchoate. Twenty-one and pregnant, Liese is living in Rome in 1943 while her husband, Gert, serves with the German army in Africa. Liese, trained as a housekeeper and kindergarten teacher, resides with German nuns and has access to an obstetrician, among other comforts, in a time when many Italians suffer from wartime scarcity, poverty, and privation. Mostly for health reason, Liese walks through Rome, lost in observing life in wartime (children daring to imitate Mussolini; the beauty of “palms, cypresses, pines, and agaves on a high garden terrace behind a four-or five-meter-high wall”) and contemplating the past (Gert asking whether he could address her in the informal rather than formal manner during their brief courtship; her father’s transition from impoverished child to traveling preacher). The author and poet does well describing the particularities of this young woman’s circumstance through these walks, but with no real inner or outer conflict, it’s never more than a sketch. Agent: Kristina Krombholz, Rowohlt Berlin. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“[A] distinct and lovely novella.” —Cameron Martin, The New York Times Book Review

“A revelation of humanism and hope almost musical in its intensity.”—Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

“Bulloch’s excellent translation keeps the supple and rhythmic flow of Delius’s language. This is a small masterpiece.” The Times Literary Supplement

“For, ultimately, it is what we know about the tragedy of World War II, and what Margherita does not, or will not . . . that gives this miniature its power.” Time Out London

“Delius understands the forces that shape Germany and has the gift to articulate joy, beauty and love.” The Independent

Kirkus Reviews
A German woman living in Rome during World War II falls under the spell of the Eternal City. Over the course of one afternoon, the heavily pregnant young narrator of this stream-of-consciousness novella takes a long walk though the streets of Rome en route to a Bach concert at a protestant church. But while that is all that actually happens, her thoughts wander freely, touching often on her absent husband, Gert, a soldier stationed in North Africa. Suffering from a chronic but not life-threatening leg wound acquired in Russia, Gert had hoped to be stationed in Rome as a minister. But in 1943, with the Germans losing the war, he is redeployed to Tunis. His bride remains in Italy, sharing a room with another girl named Ilse in a mission run by German nuns. Pious and naïve, she counts herself blessed to be wintering in the Italian sun while so many are struggling, and fixates on the timeless (and un-German) beauty and sensuality of Rome. And while she finds the vestiges of its pagan culture mildly disturbing, she nonetheless looks forward to the days when she and her husband can enjoy "Roman delights." The specific horrors of the war figure little in her thoughts, other than a vague recognition that the Führer who "places himself above God" should not be obeyed blindly. She's a good girl, with her many opinions shaped by the men in her life. But apart from her personal fears, this notably healthy mother-to-be has an unshakeable faith in her and her baby's future--come what may. Written as one long sentence broken up by indentations, this slender volume has a dreamlike quality and an unapologetically autobiographical theme. Delius (The Pears of Ribbeck, 1991) was born in Rome in 1943, the son of a German pastor. An intriguing blend of travelogue and love letter.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781908670014
  • Publisher: Peirene Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 128
  • File size: 255 KB

Meet the Author

Friedrich Christian Delius is one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary German writers. He was born in 1943 and lives in Berlin and Rom. His first poetry collection appeared in 1965. Since then he has published 14 novels, 5 poetry collections and has recently written the libretto for the opera Prospero by Luca Lombardi. His books have been translated into 17 languages. In May 2011 Friedrich Christian Delius won the most prestigious German literary award, the Georg-Buechner Prize.
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Read an Excerpt

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman

A Novel
By Friedrich Christian Delius

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2012 Friedrich Christian Delius
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780374533298

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman
Walk, young lady, walk if you want to walk, the child will like it if you walk, Dr Roberto had said in his funny German with a strong Italian accent,and, as always when she set off on a walk or to get some things in town, these words that the doctor used to say after her weekly examination, with his persuasive but friendly smile and in that silky voice, danced around her head,beautiful lady, young lady, healthy lady, moving good, straining not good, and there is nothing more better in Italy for you and the child than the oxygen in the Roman air, and all this for no money, the city of Rome she is glad to offer you and the child her good air,curious words of encouragement and irritating compliments which were already there before she took her first step outside, as she combed and plaited her hair, and put it up in a bun in front of the small bathroom mirror, thenwith a sceptical expression put on her only hat, a black one with a broad brim, and stroked both hands over her large bulging belly, and could not find anything about herself that was beautiful besides this belly, because when he called her beautiful lady it made her blush each time, in spite of his friendliness and assistance, the doctor had no right to call her that, only he did, her husband, whose return from the African front she had been waiting for week in, week out,and she tiptoed across the terracotta tiles in the hallway, it was still siesta time, back into her room which she shared with another German woman, whose fiancé had been interned in Australia and who, although almost thirty years old, was known as "the girl" and who worked in the kitchen and helped serve meals, Ilse was still lying on her bed, reading after her siesta,while she, the younger woman, put on black lace-up shoes, fetched her dark-blue coat from the wardrobe, cast an eye over her bed that had been made and the table that had been tidied and found everything in order, said See you at supper!, shut the door, and walked past the bathroom towards the lift and the main staircasein the centre of the five-storey building, a hospital and old people's home run by Evangelical nuns from Germany, with a few guest rooms, one of which she was sharing with Ilse until the birth,then afterwards she had been promised a room on the fourth floor for herself and the baby,in this mission, run by the deaconesses of Kaiserswerth, she had everything she needed and it cost her very little, a doctor and obstetrician, a midwife, sisters, regular meals, a bed, a chair, a small table, a drawer for the letters from Africa, half a wardrobe, a tiny mirror in the bathroom three doors down, a prayer each morning before breakfast, a terrace on the roof in a city where, in spite of the frequent sirens, no bombs fell, and where the winter was a mild affair, predominantly sunny and warm,and placed her hand on the banisters, here she was surrounded and cared for by ten women in dark-blue habits and white bonnets with frilly trims and bows under the chin, stiffened by Hoffmann's starch, one of the sisters was in charge of the kitchen, one the laundry, one the ironing press, one the nursing, one the administration, and the most marvellous of them all, Schwester Else, was in charge of the entire deaconesses' mission, and they all devoted themselves to the patients, to the mothers with their babies on the maternity ward, here she felt in good hands and was endlessly grateful for everything,especially grateful that they spoke German here, and that she did not have to make any effort to speak a foreign language in a foreign place, whichshe would not have been able to do, trained as a kindergarten teacher and housekeeper, she felt she had no gift at all for languages, she had not even learnt a handful of words of a foreign language, although she had got the best marks in arithmetic and gymnastics, at school and in the Hitler Youth's League of German Girls she had channelled her curiosity towards biology, to native plants and animals, but never to languages, and thus from morning to night and also now, as she carefully went down the stairs, she blessed her luckthat she was on a German island in the middle of Rome, where even the Italians spoke German, sometimes it was a funny German like Dr Roberto's, sometimes broken like that spoken by the women in the kitchen, but it seemed to her that all of them were making an effort, either because they really liked working here with Protestants, or perhaps because they themselves were dispersed Italian Protestants, brave Waldensians, or because they enjoyed German order or pious orderliness,and she walked down the stairs, holding on tightly to the banisters, until she reached the entrance hall where three narrow armchairs and a table stood outside the doctor's consulting room, and a vase which always contained fresh flowers, today it was mimosa, three bunches of delicate yellow January mimosa, and after going through the glass doorentered the front hall with a bench and the tiny room for the reception sister, as they called this post in the mission, usually it was Schwester Helga who was in charge of the key and the telephone, delivered post, showed patients to admission, completed the register, and was the person who had to be informed when leaving the house and the care of the ever-obliging, ever-smiling deaconesses,it was already three o'clock, the afternoon rest was over, and Schwester Helga was coming to do her warden's duty, she knew, it had already been discussed, that the young woman would go alone to the concert at the church on Via Sicilia, and would be accompanied home through the dark streets by two sisters,particularly as it might be a few minutes after half-past five, when no lamps shone and windows were covered for the blackout to hoodwink the bombers who had yet to drop a bomb on Rome, and the holes and paving stones on the pavement were hard to make out,See you at supper! said Schwester Helga, See you at supper! the young lady said, stepping through the door, and waited for a moment on the top step, as she took her first breath outside on this bright January afternoon,Dr Roberto was quite right to praise the Roman oxygen, this air was good for her,the sunlight was good for her, the afternoon sun shone on the right side, her side, of Via Alessandro Farnese, dabbing a little of the precious sun on her face, and making her raise her head so that her hat cast no shadow on her skin and, smiling, she walked past agaves and rhododendrons, up six steps and turned left,something she could not have imagined nine weeks ago, turning into a Roman street, all alone on a Sunday evening, so confidently and almost without trepidation,it was nine weeks ago that she had arrived in Rome, so as to be with him for a while at last, with Gert, for the first time since their wedding, and when, the very next day, he had to tell her that he had been ordered back to the army, a sudden, immediate redeployment to Africa, and she had not been able to understand,only just arrived and immediately alone again, highly pregnant in a dangerous foreign place, it was a shock, at twenty-one almost herself like a child that cannot walk without help or stand on its own two feet, exposed in a totally alien country and a totally alien language,she looked up past the beautifully moulded window arches and the green shutters of the house that had, years ago, been painted rust-red, up five storeys to the railings of the terrace, searched for the window to her room and, as if it might do hersome good, looked with modest pride in her newly acquired cosmopolitanism at the palms in front, which she loved to write about in her letters, all in all a stately building, surrounded with beautiful plants,her beloved husband could not have sought out a better refuge, she could not have found a lovelier German island, and the child inside her stirred at these thoughts, she stopped, felt the movements of the little legs and arms, she took this as a sign of consent and responded by slipping her right hand under her coat and slowly stroking her dress and the curved belly,and, as the kicking and punching abated, she began her walk to the other German island, the church on Via Sicilia, where the concert was to start at four o'clock, it was the trusted route from one island to the other, as the rest of it, the immense city of Rome, still seemed to her likea sea which she had to cross, checked by the fear of all those things unknown, of the yawning depths of this city, its double and triple floors and layers, of the many thousand similar columns, towers, domes, façades, ruins and street corners, of the endless number of pilgrimage sites for cultured visitors, which she walked past in ignorance, and of the faces of the people in the streets, which were difficult to make out, in these stormy times of a far-off war which was drawing nearer every day,but where there is fear, faith can help, she could rely on this knowledge, for the Bible was also a help against the opaque, uncanny sea named Rome, for example a verse from Psalms, cited during morning prayer, If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me,as soon as she recalled this verse she felt comforted and guided and held, and with the encouraging words of Dr Roberto, Walk, young lady, walk, and the certainty of being in exactly the right, the most secure place between the African coast, where her husband was serving, and the Baltic coast, where her parents lived, she quickly reached the first street corner, crossed the junction, stayed on the sunny side, looked at the houses in this area, all of them in those friendly colours which had become familiar to her, between bright ochre and dark, faded and washed-out red tones, three- or four-storey high, bourgeois houses, some with thick black arrows pointing to the nearest air-raid shelter, and a few paces beyond the second crossroads lined with ilex the street opened intothe square whose name she had never been able to remember properly, Cola di Rienzo, that is what was written on the stone plaques on the corners of houses, some prince or politician, she had immediately forgotten what Gert hadtold her more than two months ago, she could not retain all these foreign names in a foreign tongue, it was difficult enough to interpret the gestures and looks of passers-by,and difficult enough to pull the right face while passing the queue at the bakery, it was shortly after three, the panificio opened at half past three and shut, like all shops, at half past five because of the blackout, a few women were standing on the pavement, as they always did in the morning or early afternoon, she sidestepped them and continued on her way,flour was scarce, bread was scarce, it cost three lire per kilo, sometimes all they had was yellow corn bread, and last spring, Ilse had said, they lowered the daily ration from 200 grams per person to 150, two or three slices, and this for the Italians who are used to fresh bread every day, bakeries had not been allowed to sell cakes and biscuits for more than a year,again she thought of how fortunate she was, provided with everything she needed, not starving, and not having to queue like the Roman housewives or their maids, how lucky she was that at this hour she was able to go to church, and even to a concert, and was only vexed for a second by the question ofwhy there is not enough bread in wartime, and why it is getting ever scarcer, seeing thatever more land is being conquered and ever more victories are being reported, after all the wheat is still growing, and the rye, you can see from the window of the train how all the fields were blooming and ripening, so where is the bread, but that was not a question you could ask, it was a test, it was God's will, he provided the daily bread and allocated it,while these women stood there and looked relieved that she was not queuing up too, a woman eight months pregnant would be entitled to go right to the front of the queue, and that would have made the wait for the few grams of bread even longer, the semi-hostile glances became almost friendly when they realized that she was continuing to the corner of Via Cola di Rienzo,where before turning left she looked over to the right, to where St Peter's and the Vatican were only a quarter of an hour away, she did not want to go there now, she was not going to be sidetracked, she had been there once before and seen the Pope on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, together with Ilse she had stood in a crowd of thousands and watchedas the man venerated as the Holy Father sat on a splendid chair and was carried through the church while the mass of people greeted him with rapturous applause as if he were a victor in the Olympia film or the Führer in the weeklynewsreel, and she watched the cardinals walk up and down singing, although the huge din meant she was unable to hear any of the singing or prayers, everything seemed so heathen, so loud, so superficial, more like the theatre than Mass and, as she had not understood anything anyway, and did not like crowds, especially not now with her round belly, they went outside into St Peter's Square and Ilse had sighed Thank goodness for Martin Luther!, she had thought something similar too, but had not dared utter it, Ilse was generally quicker to say what she thought, and the two of them agreed how lucky they were that they were Protestant and were able to forgo such ostentation,and whenever she caught sight of the imposing dome of St Peter's, either from the terrace of the deaconesses' mission or while walking through the streets, she felt pity for the Catholics who were intimidated by this mass of stone, who once inside this marble fortress became extras, ants, and subject to an apparently infallible pope, it was said that there were four hundred churches in Rome, each one more beautiful and magnificent than the next, but only one of these was the right one, the church in Via Sicilia, and now she turnedleft towards the bridge over the Tiber, walked over the unintelligible letters SPQR, and the intelligible ones, GAS, on the manhole covers, past the black arrows pointing to the nearestair-raid shelter, and narrow shops that were home to a hairdresser and poultry dealer, and which were closed in the afternoons, and past the wall-newspapers that were pasted to a house,she walked this path almost every day, and sometimes, although this was increasingly seldom, when the dealer had fresh produce to display, gutted, bled and plucked chickens would hang head down in the window, right next to reports of victories in newsprint which was still damp with paste,there were shortages of everything, of bread, meat, paper, it was thus practical to paste up the papers for all to read, Notizie di Roma, the headlines in bold type, mainly consisting of the words vittoria and vincere, announced victories or the exhortation to victory, wherever one came across propaganda the words vittoria and vincere leapt out urgently in black,she was happy that she was unable to read any of it, and did not have to, even in Germany she had not read the papers, it was better not to know too much, not to say too much, not to ask too much, one always heard bad news soon enough, and the only good news came in letters, anyway, especially now that things did not look so good for the Germans and Italians in Russia,the victory slogans could be heard and read more and more frequently, but no doubt that was necessary, even she thought it necessary,one had to believe even more in victory now, she desired and prayed for victory too, not just out of national duty, but secretly for the forbidden, selfish reason that he might come home quickly and safely, her husband, who had promised her the Roman delights,to the little park by the bridge, where old men sat on benches and allowed a little January sun onto their faces after lunch, she felt eyes looking at her belly, her nose and mouth, her figure, she felt protected by her belly and the coat and hat, and yet uncomfortable, it was as if those looks were whips, so she quickened her pace and made straight for the bridge and towards the obelisks, which she could see through the boughs of the trees, of the Piazza del Popolo below the Pincio,how lucky that you are not blonde, she thought, otherwise they would whistle and make comments, perhaps they see the foreigner in you, Germans walk differently, Germans hold themselves more stiffly, Italians swing their hips more when they walk, although they actually walk more slowly and languidly, this Roman languidness everywhere, Germans dress more sloppily in civilian clothes and are more proper in uniform, one can recognize a German even before they open their mouth, said Frau Bruhns, who had been living in Rome for years, on their recent trip to Ostia Antica,perhaps these men notice you because they recognize you as a German, as an Aryan, and because they are not fond of us, do not like their allies in spite of everything the two leaders have sworn, every German in Rome will tell you that, or they can see that you are still a little anxious when you dare to wander around the city alone, without a companion, without the language, without any knowledge, into the sea of the foreign city and foreign people, and perhaps they are making fun of youreally, it does not matter what people think, you have to follow your path, towards the Lungotevere and over the river, and know where you belong, none of these thoughts would bother you in the slightest if you had your husband and protector beside you,looking left and right, watching out for vehicles which flew past the junction on the Lungotevere at dangerous speeds, as they did everywhere here, the only ones still on the roads belonged to the military or were public service vehicles, and they did not want to be held up by pedestrians, she let pass a slow bus and three cyclists who were struggling on the uneven road surface,before she reached the bridge which bore her name, as Gert had said, Ponte Margherita, the woman had been a queen, and she had not forgotten that fact, you do not forget queens, particularly if they share your name, and if your own husbandlovingly equates you with a queen, high above the famous Tiber,that sluggish, greeny-grey, greeny-yellow river with a row of houseboats and jetties for swimmers, inanimate and closed off in these winter days, the calm, almost static water reflected the bright, high walls of the riverbanks and the boughs of the trees with single, filthy-brown leaves, beside it well-camouflaged dirty-white and grey-spotted cats sat or lay on the stone banks,she slowed her pace, looked upstream across the extravagantly wide bridge with waist-high bulbous columns, and thought the view was pretty, she had occasionally crossed the Elbe, the Weser and the Spree, but she had never seen such a majestic river, framed by such fine, bright walls, and which divided the city and yet kept it together too,she looked downstream to the next bend and the next bridge, just beyond which one might catch sight of the Ponte Sant'Angelo, and found the view even more beautiful, because in this direction you could see, behind the bare trees on the Lungotevere, the palazzi in orange, red and ochre plaster, vaunting their towers, terraces and wide balconies,and in the middle of the Tiber, she was once again struck with astonishment that she of all people was permitted to live in this worldcity, in this city of all cities, as Frau Bruhns said, she, who had not even learnt Latin, just about knew the names Romulus and Remus, Caesar and Augustus, understood nothing about art, or about the popes, she,the country girl from Mecklenburg, who like her elder sister had not had any secondary education, the child from the Baltic coast who knew her way around Rostock and Doberan and Eisenach, but was already entirely overwhelmed and out of place in Berlin, she, who had only just turned twenty-one, she on the Mediterranean and in the most important and magnificent city in Europe, the navel of the world, as Gert said, who had shown her the navel of the world at the Forum,for two months she had crossed the Tiber almost every day via the Ponte Margherita, as if that were totally normal, but nothing was totally normal, especially not in these times, each day was a gift, each of the child's movements in her belly a gift, each verse from the Bible and each glance across the Tiber, and so she told herself again,just how lucky she was, compared to others, compared to him, her beloved husband, who was needed in North Africa, in Tunis, in the desert close to the enemy, instead of in Rome, where he was also needed and urgently awaited, not justby her, and compared to her two younger brothers, who were also now in uniform, or her father in the admiralty in Kiel, or compared to her mother and three sisters in those ever more frequent, terrible nights when sirens wailed, with injuries, deaths, ruins, fires,no bombs would fall on Rome, that was certain, it was obvious, the English would not raze the Eternal City and the centre of Christendom to the ground, neither would the Americans, and the splendid matte-red palazzi from the turn of the century, which she passed on her way to the Piazza del Popolo, their windows adorned with arches, their grand balconies and elegant decorative stonework, were not in imminent danger of collapse, if you could trust those people who were well informed about the war and were confident in their opinions,she could not join in the discussion, she did not want to join in, she stuck to the belief that she was in the gracious hands of God, that was the one thing that remained certain, the one thing she took for granted,the view of the brick wall in front of the Piazza and the reverse side of the statue of some sea god which towered high above the wall, a powerful male figure flanked by two half-man, half-fish forms, even from behind the almost naked men presented a strange picture, and the one in themiddle carried a sort of huge fork, and when she had walked along here with Gert she had asked why he had a fork in his hand, and, smiling, he had answered,that's a trident, that's Neptune, the god of the sea, and he's represented by a trident, but you're right, let's call it a fork, he uses it to spear fish for breakfast and shovel them into his mouth, but perhaps the sea god doesn't eat fish at all, it would be like in the Land of Milk and Honey, perhaps he's not allowed to eat any, I didn't pay attention at school, the gods only fed on nectar and ambrosia and drank wine, I'll have to check on whether Neptune ate fish as well,that was another thing she admired about him, if there was something he did not know, he immediately had an idea where you could find it out,on the wall, a few metres to either side of the group of figures, fish stood on their heads, a pair on the right and a pair on the left, fat, grinning contentedly, heads adorned with fins, on plinths, bodies and tail fins stretched upwards, looped and twisted around each other, the bodies in contact, the tail fins not touching, but playing with each other in the air, waving over the bodies and heads with acrobatic ease, and the whole thing hewn in stone, fish in love, Gert had said, that's what fish look like when they're in love,and here, beyond these figures and the fish, Via Ferdinando di Savoia divided, passers-by had to decide whether they wanted to walk left or right along the medium-height wall, past the left-or right-hand pair of lovestruck fish to the Piazza del Popolo, on the gate side or the city side of the magnificent, spacious square, cars and bicycles were directed right into the narrow, one-way street that sloped gently downwardsalong which the pedestrian herself mostly walked whenever she went to enquire after letters from her husband or to deliver post at the Wehrmacht headquarters in Via delle Quattro Fontane, the best route to which was by way of Via del Babuino,but now she chose the left fork, as always when she was on her way to the Pincio and to the church, on the black-grey, greasy paving towards the gate side of the square,and no matter from which direction she approached, each look, each step was drawn to the massively high obelisk in the centre, a magnet, bordered by four fountains, past which the occasional car drove at a respectable distance,it was hard to resist this magnet and to avoid walking closer until you were almost at the stepped fountains, upon which stone lions spewed water from their mouths, the same, powerful spurt for centuries, probably, in peacetime and wartime,she stopped, she did not wish to go any closer and make a detour, she came past here almost every day, and yet she stopped each time, to direct her gaze up at the viewing terrace supported by pillars, and the palms and pines of the Pincio, and then slowly let it fall back down to the bright oval square, and wander around andfocus on the shadows of the three large streets which led to the narrow, sombre jungle of the city centre, and then on to the café on the corner until her gaze alighted on the group of sea gods with the fork and the fish lovers, posing above a semi-circular fountain, at the foot of which three cars were parked,and each time her eyes would then wander up to the tip of the obelisk, to the cross right at the top, she liked this, and found it comforting that the Christian symbol triumphed over the heathen one, according to the Baedeker guide the Egyptian stone was supposed to be three thousand years old,could you imagine that, older than Christ, perhaps even older than Moses, now a roundabout circled by the odd tiny car and cyclists in black shirts, this incomprehensible limitlessness made her feel dizzy, the very thought of all those things she would never learn or understand made her feel dizzy,even the Italian that was spoken around her was as alien as the hieroglyphics on theobelisk, and the Latin inscription on the plinth that Gert had translated for her was, apart from the word CAESAR, as unintelligible as the Egyptian characters, the whole of Rome was full of hieroglyphics and puzzles that bewildered herlike the threshing of the corn at the foot of the obelisk in the middle of the piazza that Ilse had talked about, in summer Mussolini always had lorries deliver crops on the Piazza del Popolo, which were then thrown into a threshing machine, bales of straw and sacks of corn were supposed to demonstrate the connection between the countryside and the city, what a waste, and so she was relieved that at least she understood the cross in this square and could abide by the cross and the churches, even if they were Catholic,and once again, before she continued on her way, she looked to the left of the twin churches into Via del Babuino, down which she had already walked four times this week, Monday and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the street of letters and packages, the street of the signs of life she hoped for, the street of happiness, from where she had returned yesterday with two letters from Gert, received at the Wehrmacht headquarters, full of gratitude after a first glance at his lines and the silent, short prayer: He's alive! Thank you, O benevolent God!, and this is why, of the three streets which ran radially between the domed churchestowards the obelisk, she knew Babuino best of all, her street of happiness and gratitude,in the first few weeks she often had made part of the journey to Via delle Quattro Fontane by bus, until one day a man, a total stranger, a man of about fifty in a good suit, had touched her bottom, had touched her, the manifestly pregnant young lady, with his groping hand, with an unbelievable nerve, the like of which she had never experienced before,it thus took her too long to react and scream, which she failed to do because, as she was about to scream, she started to feel ashamed that her body had been defiled, and immediately thought that, as a foreigner, as a suspicious German without the language, she would have been just as unable to explain her screaming to the other people as she would have this brute's behaviour, so instead of screaming loudly she had turned and pushed her way to the door, to get out at the next stop,a distressing moment, and on Via del Corso too, which she had avoided since, the main street with the upmarket shops, almost cleared out by the war, and a memorial plaque for Goethe, who was called Volfango here, the most distressing moment of her nine weeks in Rome, which she had not told any of the deaconesses about, not even Ilse,she had only confided in Gert, who tried to comfort her from Africa, that's very rich, he had written, particularly given your condition, unfortunately such sick men did exist, and this sort of thing happened more often in Catholic countries, he had written, but she had been right to get off the bus straightaway,since that incident she had kept as far away from crowds as possible, out of consideration for the child as well, and in the dangerous sea of the hospitable and harsh, beautiful and uncanny city, had sought out her little islands of reassurance, such as crosses on obelisks or the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, along the side façade of which she now walked towards the Pincio steps, the only one of the over-elaborate, proudly grandiose churches in which she did not feel alienated,because Martin Luther had once stayed in the convent here, and said Mass in front of the altar and preached, when he was a young monk in Rome, as she knew from Gert, appalled and disgusted by the improvident extravagance, lack of belief and licentiousness of senior as well as junior church dignitaries, you could say that here, Gert had told her, in this corner of Rome, the seed of the Reformation was sown,and then he had shown her a painting, the conversion of Paul, a blinded Paul hurled to the ground by the impact of the conversion andlying under his horse, and Gert had said that it was almost a Protestant painting, its conception inspired so radically by faith, she had forgotten the name of the painter,each time she felt good when she passed this church on the way to her church, and felt a warmth that emanated from the perceived closeness of Luther and the converted Paul and from the gentle afternoon sun, and she stepped past the sphinxes sitting on the wall of the square up to the Pincio steps, had to dodge a cyclist in a blue skirt with a conspicuously blithe, even happy expression on her face, who shot down the street, and she saw the exertion of the climb that awaited her, seventy or eighty shallow steps that curved gently to the left to a point halfway up the hill,Dr Roberto's funny phrases in her head, yes, the steps are good too, walk if you like to walk, until the birth you walk as much you want, young lady, healthy lady, no problem at all, just straining not good, walking better than in bus driving into hole in road, and better than cycling, she was looking forward to that as well after her pregnancy, to get on a bicycle again and relish dashing downhill, as happy as that young woman,and she caught her breath before she started shifting her heavy body step by step upwards, on the right-hand side, where the light stone steps had been worn down, something she had onlyseen on old wooden staircases, and halfway up she turned round again, taking a short rest,and whispered to her child, who seemed to enjoy being carried upwards and rocked, soon you'll see this too, the beautiful oval of this broad, light square, and the sea god with his fork and everything here, and then she continued upwards, carefully because the stones were greasy and slippery, it was not only when it was wet that you had to walk especially slowly and carefully, it was also important to take care now, and be deliberate with each step,two German soldiers in uniform approached her, one slipped with the smooth soles of his boots, almost fell onto the steps but recovered and shouted Scheisse!, which startled her, because it was not something you said, not as a soldier and role model, and especially not in public right beside Luther's church, as a German in your ally's country you had to behave properly, and she tried her best to avoid being recognized by these two and other passers-by as a German, she wanted nothing to do with men who said Scheisse!,and climbed the last few steps, panted lightly, relieved to have completed the most strenuous part of today's journey, she briefly thought about whether she should now continue upwards via the narrow Pincio road or the steeper, winding footpath, where a black cat darted out ofthe bushes, pursued by a larger, mangy-looking feline, and decided to begin by turning left, past the closed door to the convent, clearly no longer used, where Luther once stayed, to the stone basin perched on a pedestal,Gert and she, as if one and the same person, had both said bathtub when they spotted it during their one and only walk together through Rome nine weeks ago, one could imagine that at some point during these two and a half thousand years, it would have been commonplace for the Romans with their loose morals to take a bath in the open air, after all there were several more of these around, such as the two large bathtub fountains on the square in front of the Palazzo Farnese, a building she especially liked because it was one of the few names she could keep in her head, it was also the name of her street,and behind the stone basin, which was on a platform high up on the ancient Roman city wall, there was the view of the roofed entrance gate to the Villa Borghese and the stone eagles and griffins which kept watch on the crests, sculptures of eagles and griffins were to be found everywhere in the park, they must be heraldic beasts,once she had become aware of the fact she started to discover one eagle after the other, on buildings, statues, plinths, fountains, bridges, and she was surprised because she had alwaysthought of the eagle as a German heraldic beast, as a German peculiarity, and initially she had thoroughly disapproved of the fact that it cropped up so regularly in Italy,something fascinated her from the start about these eagles, they looked familiar and yet different, it had taken her a while to solve the puzzle and identify the difference, the German eagles looked sterner, they stood erect down to the last feather, fanned their wings in military fashion, or clutched the swastika,whereas the Italian eagles were represented more like real eagles, almost like pets, with softer, more naturally formed feathers, stern also, but watching and waiting, they were more paternally strict and protective than militarily correct, and she had to admit that she preferred the Italian eagles, particularly these four, flanked by grinning, smirking griffins which, at her eye level, looked out in every direction from the roof of the entrance gate to the Villa Borghese,she had always wanted to ask Gert why there were so many eagles in Rome, it must have something to do with the ancient Romans, with Caesar, Augustus, Romulus, everything was somehow connected with the ancient Romans, he would, no doubt, have been able to tell her off the top of his head, it seemed that he had an answer to all her questions,but there was so much to write every day, so much she had to tell him, so many worries of his to dispel, to convey comfort in confident handwriting, hope and trust in God in exemplary German handwriting, and place her love in every sentence, because each letter might be the last, she would have found it completely ridiculous, even disturbing if the question of the eagles' origin had become a main topic of her letters to Africa,and, her thoughts focused on the letter she was going to write to him that evening, she carried on, past a life-size, smiling lion made from that white marble-like stone which could be seen everywhere here, and whose name she had forgotten, on beyond the bend in the road, and slowly along the path marked with shallow steps and lined with laurel bushes and gnarled trees, and as everwhen she became melancholic at the thought of her lover redeployed to the front, she comforted herself with the phrase that was his phrase too, better than being an infantryman in Russia, the last few steps stood before her, she looked straight ahead at the shallow steps, a pace apart, Africa is better than Russia, desert better than snow, one step, orderly room better than infantry, another step, lance corporal better than corporal, another step, he was alive, many had died or gone missing, yet another step, and he couldlook forward to the child with her, and one more, and he was close, just beyond the sea, far away and close at the same time, very close,when she thought of Ilse's fiancé, who was stuck in Australia, interned by the British, how fortunate she was compared to Ilse, who while waiting in Rome for her final papers for the boat journey to see her fiancé in Australia was surprised by the outbreak of war, and since that time, now more than three years ago, had been working uncomplainingly as a housemaid for the deaconesses, and was longing for the end of the war,grateful for her unwarranted good fortune and slightly out of breath, she thus reached the magnificent top of the Pincio, the place of her most painful sorrow, up here on the day after her arrival, finally approved by the authorities, on 11th November, at the end of a long, day-long walk, the first and only walk they had taken together through the city of wonders, Gert had told her with many oaths of love, as he stammered and fought back the tears, what a note from the Wehrmacht the previous day had said, the day of her arrival from Germany:Order for deployment! Africa! Day after tomorrow!, up here on the broad viewing terrace, on the square named after the wild warrior Napoleon, with the most beautiful view in theworld, the Baedeker guide claimed, over roofs, hills and sky, was where she had been dumbstruck by the order,a shock which paralyzed her limbs, extinguished the promised delights, she had sobbed in the arms of her husband, united yesterday, separated the day after tomorrow, three days, it was incomprehensible, she was unable to stop crying in spite of his kisses, all those lovely plans shattered, an incomprehensible, overwhelming disappointment,while in the background horns had sounded and bells chimed on the children's carousel, and the croaky, laughing voice of the entertainer from the puppet theatre had provided a commentary to the whole thing as if in mockery, just as now, as she recalled that dreadful moment, the carousel rang out and the puppeteer crowed once more,for in spite of her parents' opposition she had departed from Mecklenburg with a hard-earned visa for the unimaginably far-off Italy, to the friendly and alien country, to the dangerous, unsafe, Catholic Rome, to the father of her child, after he had been recalled by the Wehrmacht to carry out light duties in Rome because of an injury and a tissue inflammation which would not heal, and so he was discharged for his real work, that of strengthening people's faith in God,and the two of them had imagined that they would finally be together, together for the first time since their wedding, not yet together in an apartment, but with a little attic room for her in Via Alessandro Farnese, with the midwives' ward three floors below, and a room for him in Via Toscana next to the church, together at last and only separated by a good half-hour's walk, the last three months of her pregnancy, and then together again in the city safe from bombs, ready for the Roman delights, as Gert was fond of saying,all of this conceived in vain, in vain the battle with her parents won, in vain the papers for her visa and the forms filled out and stamped for foreign currency, in vain the months of planning and the twenty-four hours of travelling, she had thought at first,but then she had to learn again that no suffering is in vain, and she had made good use of this phrase to console herself over the past few weeks, she had not, in spite of her mother's desperate pleas, returned home to the Reich, for in Rome she was closer to him, a reunion was far more likely here than in Germany, than in the small Mecklenburg town of Doberan, the trial both of them had to endure was easier to suffer in Rome, she thought again,as right on the parapet of the viewing platform, beside a group of close-cropped Italianchildren in uniform, boys in shorts about seven or eight years old, she looked down at the Piazza del Popolo and the now tiny sea god with his fork, at the long shadow of the obelisk and the endless landscape of roofs and domes, none of which she could name except for the dome of St Peter's, which dominated all else,certainly she would have been better able to recall all these churches and palazzi with their unfamiliar names if the Wehrmacht had kept its promise and spared him, rather than giving the order for redeployment, and if her husband had stayed beside her, her husband who, ever since that shock in the evening sun on the Pincio, had consoled her time and again that this was not some horrible blind chance at play, and had strengthened her belief that God, who is love, delivers this all to us, that it may benefit us in the end,for it was un-Christian to shed tears for one's own misfortune and to forget the far greater misfortunes of others, the joys of life were limitless, every day she could delight in her child, and today she might look forward to the church concert and the cantatas, she heard Gert say,life is like a Bach cantata, the first thing we hear is that we can be helped, then we may lament, then we hear the Bible's answer, then we may doubt, look inside ourselves and pray, then we hear Jesus speak, and at the end we find ourselvesin the redemptive choir amongst the triumphant trumpets,and in wartime, life was a very particular sort of trial, God's most difficult trial, in spite of all the tears your individual plans counted for nothing, the selfish hope of the Roman delights counted for nothing, all human endeavour counted for nothing, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord,she said silently to herself, looking at the cross on top of the obelisk, the sphinx figures on the walls which surrounded the square, the busy streets beyond, the bridge named Margherita, she could almost see the entire route she had come along, and she listened to the teachertalk about the city to the children who, in spite of their uniform, were not particularly disciplined, one of them, snotty-nosed and with chilblains on his legs, began to imitate the Duce, followed by three of his classmates, then they gave the Hitler salute, the Roman salute from the Pincio balcony to an imaginary crowd on the square below,which the teacher immediately forbade them from doing before continuing her talk, while the young woman could not understand a word except for via, piazza and obelisco, she could not even make out the names of the streets and hills from the hasty melody of this language,yet she did not feel alien, at least not up here on the Pincio, where the heavens were close, not even in St Peter's Basilica or the Pantheon could you get closer to the heavens, and with the view, now familiar to her, to the south over the city lit up by the mild January sun, as far as the royal palace set up high, and the huge, blinding-white marble cake of the so-called Altar of the Fatherland,bothered only by the coy or cheeky glances the boys gave her swollen belly, some sniggered as if they had never seen their mothers, aunts, or neighbours highly pregnant, but perhaps the objectionable thing about it, the thing she noticed, was that she had been once again recognized as a foreigner, a pregnant foreigner, even the adults here thought that was not right somehow,she moved away from the children's intrusive glances and sniggers, and walked across the gravel towards the stalls and the puppet theatre, and now the changing voices of the puppeteer rang more loudly in her ears, from a distance she could see the figures bash each other, fall down, stand up again, and, making her way resolutely towards her goal, she turned to the path beneath the trees and thought about her husband, thought about why he had chosen this place on the Pincio that late afternoon to mention the terrible order, and she was grateful to him that he had been wise enoughnot to disclose to her immediately upon her arrival at the station the evening before, nor that morning, the order he could do nothing about, wise enough to show her first the columns, façades, streets, ruins, views of the city, embed in her all those beautiful and new things, and plant the images in her mind, so far as it was possible in one day, unclouded by the shadow of a terrible disappointment, wise enough to take her, on a late sunny afternoon, up to the Pincio and introduce her to this most beautiful of all views,before telling her, like a confession, the dreadful truth of the immediate redeployment, giving her comforting kisses, then pointing to the royal palace and the shining block of marble of the Altar of the Fatherland and saying,that's south, that's south-west, and from up here you have the best view towards Africa, beyond those hills you can see from here, beyond the Tiber valley over there on the left is the coast, beyond that the sea, and on the other side of the sea, in the south, there I'll be standing and I'll see you up here on the Pincio, and you'll see me over there in Africa, and we'll wave to each other every evening, and send each other a kiss from coast to coast,he had repeated the play on words with coast and kiss until both of them started laughing, a brief laugh between sobs, and he told her thatkissing in public was frowned upon in Italy, lovers and fiancés were almost liable to be punished if they kissed or embraced in the park, and married couples automatically refrained from doing so, the Fascists wanted to be exceptionally decent people, and they did not tolerate anything as indecent as kisses or laughter,she longed for such kisses and moments of laughter, which would make even the tears and pain of that November evening acceptable, and she was certain that she had not laughed since,she turned around once more to the spot where all this had taken place, other couples were now looking down on the square, hesitantly keeping their distance from each other, the schoolchildren jostled in front of the puppet theatre, no doubt having already forgotten the pregnant foreigner,while she wondered whether in a few years' time her child, if it was to be a boy, would snigger as rudely as these schoolboys in the presence of a pregnant woman, the child did not move, gave no answer with its arms or legs, she just felt confident that with the correct upbringing all would be fine, even the trivial things are important, Gert had written, and as she promised herself that she would be as good a mother as her own mother had been,she continued her way under the trees whose names she did not know, and each time this troubled her, for in Germany she could identifyevery tree, often from a distance, down to the yews and ashes, she had been the best in her League of German Girls group, at flower identification too, but here in Italy she had not yet got beyond palms, cypresses, ilexes and pines,her way between the stone busts on tall plinths of famous Italians, the entire park, including the side paths and the areas around the small obelisks, was littered with these bright stone heads, all of them men whose names meant nothing to her, Ratazzi or Rossi or Secchi, some faces washed away by the weather, others still with sharp profiles, sixty, eighty, perhaps more than a hundred heads, and she could not help thinkingthat so many die each day on the battlefronts, each head a life, each life a gift, each life at the centre of other lives, although she knew that every day it was thousands more than these men here, but with these heads, all so different from each other, it was easier to imagine what each individual life meant, just how many hopes, efforts, joys and pains, and yet she felt how narrow her power of imagination was, because in truth she was only thinking of one life, the one which influenced and affected her most,in passing she saw an old woman sitting alone on a bench between the many stone heads, singing to herself, now louder, now softer, giving the impression of being mentally ill or perhaps justdeeply troubled, with a croaky voice, a warning to beware, you must not go mad amongst all these stone heads, amongst too many dead bodies,and she turned away with a glance to the left, where two German officers got out of a car outside a splendid villa and walked up the steps to the entrance, she had often seen military men go into this building or, on sunny days during these winter weeks, sit on the terraces in their long coats, German and Italian officers, who met to make decisions about the war's progress and who could drink coffee here in the luxury of their own positions of responsibility,probably the good, genuine coffee like the one Gert occasionally sent her from Tunis, and which Roman housewives had not been able to buy for a long time, or only on the black market at unbelievable prices,she was quite happy her husband was not an officer, that he was even proud of the fact he was still just a lance corporal, an orderly, a driver, a clerk and telephonist, and that instead of planning great battles, making decisions about the life and death of thousands, and slurping coffee in luxury, he was happier giving her the advice to become better acquainted with art and, here in the park, to go further on to the left, to stroll to the other end as far as the Galleria Borghese, go there, have a look around, enjoy the beautiful things,but she was afraid of getting to know art on her own, and she was also uneasy about the nakedness that was on display and painted there, which Ilse had told her about, and she could not tell Raphael apart from Michelangelo, although she had seen the Michelangelo film with Gert in Berlin, Sistine Chapel, Moses, sure, but what was it about pictures,each time she visited a museum, as she had again recently with the cultured Frau Bruhns on the Capitol, she realized how much she relied on having her husband beside her, by herself she could not get excited, only with his eyes and explanations would she have been able to feel happiness, understand better what she was looking at, you can only see properly when you are together, only when you are together does the meaning reveal itself,and she looked from the Viale del Belvedere, which continued along the top of the hill in the direction of the Spanish Steps to the church of the Trinità dei Monti, towards the south in the direction of Africa, she fixed her gaze between the royal palace and the Altar of the Fatherland into the distance as far as Tunis,where he sat in a captain's study on the edge of the city from six or seven in the morning until midnight, he was not allowed to be more specific about his military work or reveal whereit was, even the place names in his letters were kept as general as possible, Africa, 7th January, and only once, it might have been an oversight or perhaps a clue for her, he had written Tunis instead of Africa,in the meantime she had learnt that the battle lost at the end of October in the desert at El Alamein had been the reason for the surprise relocation order in November, for the shock of their separation, tens of thousands of soldiers had died, Germans and Italians, this is why they had called up the reservists as quickly as possible, even those in reserved occupations, they had also ordered her husband back to the front, there were to be no more disasters, no more defeats,Victory! had become an imperative for the Germans, and also for the Italians, whose eyes were assaulted every day on large squares, at the corners of broad streets and in the headlines of the wall-newspapers by the bold-type words Vinceremo! or Vincere!, always with exclamation marks, sometimes with three exclamation marks,and yet there were too many defeats, in Russia the picture was no longer one of great victories, they hardly spoke about victories any more, they only spoke of the length of the war, and what was the point of this dreadful war if there were to be no more victories, they could not imagine a war without victories,since she was twelve years old the Führer of the German Reich had proceeded from one triumph to the next, for as long as she could remember he had only won, conquered, been celebrated, cheered, even during church services thanks were offered up for the political and military successes too, and her husband would only be able to return soon if they were victorious, but if more defeats threatened on almost all fronts he would stay there, his life in ever-increasing danger, and she would have to wait longer and longer,it was impossible to think what might become of the beautiful Germany without victories, thinking this was forbidden, she forbade herself from thinking it, and while her yearning flew south to Africa,Wartburg castle appeared before her eyes, as if the hills and valleys of Rome were similar to the hills and valleys of the Thuringian Forest around the Wartburg, and the Roman roofs similar to the Thuringian treetops, and the villas on the Gianicolo similar to the villas of Eisenach, nothing was comparable, and yet the proud, beautiful German Wartburg with its towers and gates, battlements, the walls and rows of windows of the long buildings were all of a sudden quite close, the destination of their first walk together, when their love began to germinate two and a quarter years ago,

Continues...

Excerpted from Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius Copyright © 2012 by Friedrich Christian Delius. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2011

    Could not stop reading it

    Great story that really had me believing this demon was addressing me personally. So scary that I had to keep reminding myself it was just a book. Liked it so much I got it on tape too. That was even scarier than the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2014

    Test

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2013

    Jay

    "Ye. Anytime." Smiled watching her go.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Sveta

    You are an awesome writer. Five stars! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    The Art of Survival

    The Art of Survival

    Chapter 5- Griffin's POV
    ((2 months later))

    I stand in the upstairs hallway, bored and trying to think of something to do. Before I decide on anything, however-
    "Griffin? Can I talk to you for just a sec?" Kristen calls from her room.
    "Sure." I reply, a bit bewildered.
    She turns to me when I enter. "Look, it's not really anything important, but it's been bugging me. My name's not Lucy. That's my sister's name. It's not Kristen. That's made up. I've been hiding behind a fake identity, 'cause it made me feel safe. Now I realize it was cowardly, and I'm vulnerable. My name's Shaelyn."
    "Um..." I stare, puzzled, at her. "Okay. Cool."
    "So... that's it?" She frowns a little. "You're not, like, pissed or anything?"
    I shrug. "Nah. Why would I be?"
    "I LIED to you." She supplies.
    "About your name. You were scared. I get that. And I forgive you."
    "Everyone else already knows." She mumbles.
    "Even Hunter?" I ask.
    "Yeah."
    Okay, now I'm a little mad. "Uh, alright. It's all good."
    "You sure, Griffin?"
    "Oh, yeah, no problem."
    She studies me skeptically for a moment, then nods and stands. "Katonia and I are going to check out that house out there to the west. Please take care of Melissa and Jewel."
    "You'll be back. I won't have to take care of them forever, right?"
    "Course not. We'll be back before you know it." She slings a leather bag over her shoulder and stands. "See you soon, Griffin."
    "See you... Shaelyn."
    We watch each other silently for a moment. Shaelyn begins to leave. She pauses and stands, right in front of me, rather close. She seems to be debating on something. She decides on clapping me on the shoulder and leaving. I stare at her back. Her long blond hair bounces slightly as she walks out the door, leaving me feeling like we have unfinished business.
    * * *
    Shaelyn's POV

    "Bye-bye, Shae." Jewel says. She stares up at me with sad, big blue eyes. The six-year-old's raven-black hair is in a long, curly ponytail.
    "Bye, Jewel. I'll be back." I hug her quickly and turn to Melissa. The stubborn eleven-year-old regards me with icy brown eyes. Her pale brown hair is chin-length and a little wavy. "See ya, Mel."
    She puts on a rare smile. "Bye."
    Katonia bids everyone farewell. Gabriel comes over to me, grinning slyly. "What about me, Shae? I don't get a good-bye kiss?"
    I roll my eyes at him. "If I come back in one piece, we'll see."
    "Fine." He sighs theatrically, then smiles and winks. I return the smile and follow Katonia out the door.
    We jog over to the stable and look for some horses. Katonia saddles up her horse, Chiyo, a dappled gray mare. I find my own horse, named Wild Breeze. Wild is a beautiful dark brown-and-white splotched mare.
    The two of us mount up and gallop out. The setting sun blazes like a raging fire. I breathe in the fresh air and allow myself to forget that this is the end of the world.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Cat Clans?

    Go be nerdy fourth graders somewhere else. Maybe create your own website? You never know. Some people may even like it and join. About the book: it's a pretty o.k. buy. Good for random reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Shadow

    Ya go to result 2,blackkit.Brownkit-black tom with brown paws and jade green eyes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Can l rp blackkit?

    Can l?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Bramblepaw to everyone

    Look. First some one said it was grass clan territory. Then theifclan teritory. Then thunderclan territory. Why dont u do what my clan did with maskclan and just share territory!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2011

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    Posted July 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

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    Posted March 3, 2011

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    Posted April 27, 2011

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    Posted April 1, 2012

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    Posted November 30, 2011

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    Posted August 17, 2011

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    Posted January 14, 2011

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    Posted February 27, 2011

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    Posted April 6, 2011

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