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The Second Winter
     

The Second Winter

4.5 2
by Craig Larsen
 

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“A great historical novel, a touching family saga, and a noir wartime thriller all rolled into one terrific narrative.” —Lee Child, New York Times best-selling author

Set in Denmark in the darkest days of World War II, THE SECOND WINTER is a cinematic novel that, in its vivid portrayal of a family struggling to survive

Overview

“A great historical novel, a touching family saga, and a noir wartime thriller all rolled into one terrific narrative.” —Lee Child, New York Times best-selling author

Set in Denmark in the darkest days of World War II, THE SECOND WINTER is a cinematic novel that, in its vivid portrayal of a family struggling to survive the German occupation, both captures a savage moment in history and exposes the violence and want inherent in a father's love.
 
It is 1941. In occupied Denmark, an uneasy relationship between the Danish government and the Germans allows the country to function under the protection of Hitler’s army, while Danish resistance fighters wage a bloody, covert battle against the Nazis. Fredrik Gregersen, a brutish, tormented caretaker of a small farm in Jutland laboring to keep his son and daughter fed, profits from helping Jewish fugitives cross the border into Sweden. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, Polina, a young refugee from Krakow, finds herself impressed into prostitution by Germans and Danes alike. When Fredrik steals a precious necklace from a helpless family of Jews, his own family’s fate becomes intertwined with Polina’s, triggering a ripple effect that will take decades and the fall of the Berlin Wall to culminate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A great historical novel, a touching family saga, and a noir wartime thriller all rolled into one terrific narrative.” —Lee Child, New York Times best-selling author

"[A] richly narrated story that brings the horrors of the Holocaust and the merciless depravities that accompany war into vivid focus. There is a remarkable cinematic quality to the novel, from the barrenness of Jutland to what remains of the glitter of Copenhagen. An absolute page-turner and a discussion-group leader’s dream.” —Booklist

“Larsen creates a darkly sensual world in which evil impulses often triumph, but not always.” —Kirkus Review

“Larsen’s (Mania) impressive second novel is filled with compelling though not always attractive characters. A solid choice for adventurous readers.” —Library Journal 

“The Second Winter captures not the lives of soldiers on the battlefield, but those of simple people living on the edges.” —Foreword Reviews 

"The Second Winter by Craig Larsen is a book impossible to put down even when you wish you could.” —New York Journal of Books  

“These disparate lives cross in unexpected ways, making the ending satisfying without sacrificing the complexity of characters Larsen has so carefully created. This novel is a fresh approach to the abuses of both the occupier and the occupied in a period of history that continues to surprise us with its dark,dirty secrets.” —Historical Novel Society

“[Larsen] excels at capturing tone and building tension; once you’re into the main plot it’s hard to put the book down. You can practically see the dirt from the sty on Frederik’s clothes, feel the cold driving nails into Oskar’s hands, feel the hot anguish Amalia suffers at the hands of the family’s wealthy landlady as well as in her own home. It’s a time that’s so emotionally charged, but this perspective is different from so many that we see.”  Woman Around Town 

Kirkus Reviews
2016-06-30
Danish resistance fighters are often as brutal as the occupying Nazis in Larsen’s (Mania, 2009) luridly dark exploration into the ways that “war can make criminals of heroes…and heroes of criminals.”In 1939, half-Jewish teen Polina ends up in the clutches of German soldiers who brutally use her for sex. Two years later she has become a prostitute in Copenhagen, where she catches the eye of Lt. Hermann Schmidt, a photographer for Germany’s Ministry of Propaganda who dabbles on the black market. He has a wife and daughter (whose memory of her long-dead father frames the novel), but he obsessively tracks down Polina, buys her from her pimp, and sets her up in the relative luxury of his apartment. Meanwhile, Fredrik Gregersen, the black sheep of “a venerable Danish family," scrapes by as a farmhand in rural Jutland. An amphetamine user and brutal father to his teenage children, Oskar and Amalia, Fredrik occasionally helps a neighbor smuggle escaping Jews to the coast for extra cash. When a transport goes wrong, Fredrik ends up with a Jewish family’s money and jewels. Then a few people close to Fredrik turn up dead and the police begin nosing around, so he sends Oskar to Copenhagen to sell the jewels. Unaware he is being tracked by a Resistance assassin out to retrieve the jewels, Oskar encounters Hermann and Polina and strikes a business deal; the irony is that Hermann buys most of the jewels with money he made selling paintings he had purchased from the strapped Gregersens. A smitten Oskar returns later to slip Polina away from Hermann's apartment, leaving behind an emerald necklace "to buy her freedom." Back in Jutland, Polina becomes a point of contention between Fredrik and Oskar. Her feelings toward Oskar, who loves her, are ambiguous; Fredrik, who sees in her his own animal instincts, both repulses and attracts her. It is not a situation likely to end well despite occasional slivers of tenderness. Larsen creates a darkly sensual world in which evil impulses often triumph, but not always.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590517888
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
09/27/2016
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
127,686
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Craig Larsen was born in 1968 and is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Columbia Law School. His first novel, Mania, was published in 2009. A single father, Larsen has lived in New York and Europe. He currently resides in Northern California.

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The Second Winter 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
SmithFamilyInEngland 2 days ago
Considering the brutality of this emotional and often violent book the descriptive writing was beautiful and shows the author, Craig Larsen, to be a very talented writer. "The Second Winter" is a dark, raw and graphic story set during WW2 focusing between a Danish man, Fredrik (a brute of a drug user), who profits from assisting Jews cross the border to Sweden and Polina, a young Polish girl forced into prostitution. On one particular occasion Fredrik steals a necklace from a fleeing Jew and triggers a chain of events that bring the two storylines together and for me a very sentimental and tearful ending. We are shown in this book just how despicable mankind can be during war and conflict and I imagine this will be a tough read for a lot of people - as it was for me at times - since the author highlights the true horrors often kept hidden. There's drug use, violence, prostitution and murder, a complex mix in the atrocities of war. However, at the heart of it is a fathers love and the want for his children - I think the author has captured this perfectly considering the storyline. I really enjoyed this dark book, yes it was tough, but probably very true to life and I imagine the family recollections/research done must have been very hard going. It really makes you realise just how good our life is nowadays. On an extra note this hardback book is beautifully printed with a gorgeous sleeve setting Polona's scene perfectly and showing just how much effort must have gone into publishing it.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was a different point of view from most of the books I've been reading about WWII. This one tells the story of people helping the Jews escape from the Germans. While they are able to escape and live, they are still miserable treated, at least by Frederik Grergerson. They are delivered to the sea and put on boats which deliver them to other ports of safety. However, if Frederik thinks they have something of value, he will take it and send them on their way. That is how he ends up with a satchel filled with jewelry made of precious stones. That satchel is where most of the trouble begins. Also, Frederik is an arse, the biggest. The story goes back and forth from 1940 - 1941 to 1969. The story was very well written and there were moments when I was holding my breath, hoping that the Germans would not find the person they were looking for. And other moments when I was yelling at the characters "NO, don't do that". That is how much I was into this book. I was so into it that I could not put it down. When it was over, I found myself saying "now what?". This was a great thriller that produced goose pimples, yelling at the characters, breath holding, a couple of wish slappings and all in all quality entertainment. My kind of book. Thanks Craig Larsen for providing that. Also huge thanks to Other Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.