Vienna, 1948. The war is over, and as the initial phase of de-Nazification winds down, the citizens of Vienna struggle to rebuild their lives amidst the rubble.
Anna Beer returns to the city she fled nine years earlier after discovering her husband's infidelity. She has come back to find him and, perhaps, to forgive him. Traveling on the same train from Switzerland is 18-year-old Robert Seidel, a schoolboy summoned home to his stepfather's sickbed and the secrets of his family's past.
As Anna and Robert navigate an unrecognizable city, they cross paths with a war-widowed American journalist, a hunchbacked young servant girl, and a former POW whose primary purpose is to survive by any means and to forget. Meanwhile, in the shells of burned-out houses and beneath the bombed-out ruins, a ghost of a man, his head wrapped in a red scarf, battles demons from his past and hides from a future deeply uncertain for all.
In The Crooked Maid, Dan Vyleta returns to the shadows of war-darkened Vienna, proving himself once again "a magical storyteller, master of the macabre" (David Park).
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
Dan Vyleta is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge. His previous novels are Pavel & I and The Quiet Twin. Vyleta is a Canadian citizen and lives in Wisconsin. www.danvyleta.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Review originally posted at Bettering Me Up. Apparently, this is the sequel to The Quiet Twin, which I didn't know until after I was done reading the book. The Crooked Maid works as a stand-alone novel, but I hate reading series out of order. If I had known that this was a follow-up, I wouldn't have requested this from NetGalley. That being said, the Vyleta's writing is beautiful and I fell in love with the imagery he presented. This is definitely an "intelligent" book, so be prepared to read this without any distractions. If you're looking for a light, fluffy novel, find something else and come back to this when you're ready to crank those brain cells. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
The story revolves around a couple of murders in post-war Vienna, when many POWs are making their ways home from prison camps. I started this book with the idea that it was a murder-mystery - it is, but the story doesn't adhere to the traditional format of a murder-mystery. The book revolves around human nature, murder just being a by-product of community. In the acknowledgements, the author admits to paying homage to Dostoevsky and Dickens; I'm inclined to agree. The book never lets readers escape the effects of WWII - the war shades every word, description, and habit. The characters are as scarred as their city. That being said, a lot of the prose slips into past tense, which makes for some very dry reading. The plot is slow to start, with a lot of time taken to describe the setting and introduce characters - this won't bother history buffs but may turn off some readers. The strange twists in the narrative-format kept me in the dark until Vyleta was ready to tell me what I needed to know for the story to progress. I gave up trying to guess the end about half-way through the book; I admit, the end wasn't what I expected. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.