The Novel in the Viola

I’m not a fan of war literature… guess I’m just too much of a softie.  But I do enjoy the stories of those affected by war.  And this was interesting as it provided a perspective I had not been exposed to before; the priviledged daughters of the weathly Jewish families of Vienna – many of whom escaped Austria by applying for places as maids in the English countryside.

Elise Landau is one of these girls.  She begins her stay at Tyneford Hall most unprepared for life as a maid.  She can barely speak English, and has never completed any kind of manual labour.  But all she has to do is wait until the rest of her family can escape to America and send for her.

However, despite her readiness to dislike England, Elise finds a home and many kindred spirits – and even a chance at love.  And all of this is good – because as war breaks out she is irrevocably separated from her family.  All she can do is make this new family – forged in wartime – work, and ride the waves of devastation and destruction around them.

Unpretentious and charming – although perhaps a little romanticized – this is an enjoyable read.

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