The Hiding Room

The Hiding Room

by Jonathan Wilson

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Questions of identity permeate this haunting first novel, a love story-cum-historical thriller that mines the best of both genres. Having journeyed from England to Jerusalem to bury his mother, Daniel Weiss decides he will try to discover the identity of his father, whom he never knew. His first-person narration frames flashbacks to 1941, when Archie Rawlins, an intelligence officer with the British army in Cairo, encounters Eva Weiss. A refugee from Vienna, where she has endured Nazi atrocities, Eva is trying to slip past the British embargo and reach Palestine. Archie, an Oxford graduate and Romanticist who can quote most of Palgrave's Golden Treasury of English Poetry from memory, has heretofore skimmed the surface of life, unsure of his future direction. Drawn to the waiflike but steely-nerved Eva, he becomes her lover, then betrays her to the authorities. Soon overcome with remorse, Archie knows he must save Eva from the consequences of his act. His decision to help Eva eventually makes Archie an AWOL fugitive in Palestine. Ironically, it is through the quixotic and eventually tragic act of jettisoning his past that Archie finally discovers his identity and ``a heightened capacity to love.'' Meanwhile Eva, who is pregnant, comes to realize her love for him. British-born Wilson (he has since lived in the Middle East and now teaches in the U.S.) has a convincing grasp of both the physical and emotional terrain he describes. The settings of the novel-Cairo, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem- are limned in prose that can leap from sensual lyricism to grittily real detail. His characters, who include a gay Jewish chaplain, Eva's self-absorbed father and a typically correct British colonel, are drawn with integrity. In the end, this story of love, betrayal and redemption is a significant achievement. (Aug.)

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Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
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7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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