The Moment: Book summary and reviews of The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

The Moment

A Novel

By Douglas Kennedy

The Moment
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  • Published in USA  May 2011,
    544 pages.

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Book Summary

Thomas Nesbitt is a divorced writer in the midst of a rueful middle age. Living a very private life in Maine, in touch only with his daughter and still trying to recover from the end of a long marriage, his solitude is disrupted one wintry morning by the arrival of a box that is postmarked Berlin. The name on the box - Dussmann - unsettles him completely, for it belongs to the woman with whom he had an intense love affair twenty-six years ago in Berlin at a time when the city was cleaved in two and personal and political allegiances were frequently haunted by the deep shadows of the Cold War.

Refusing initially to confront what he might find in that box, Thomas nevertheless is forced to grapple with a past he has never discussed with any living person and in the process relive those months in Berlin when he discovered, for the first and only time in his life, the full, extraordinary force of true love. But Petra Dussmann, the woman to whom he lost his heart, was not just a refugee from a police state, but also someone who lived with an ongoing sorrow that gradually rewrote both their destinies.

A love story of great epic sweep and immense emotional power, The Moment explores why and how we fall in love - and the way we project on to others that which our hearts so desperately seek.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Kennedy is astonishing at communicating his characters' emotional turmoil, the complexity of their situation, and the coldness of the Cold War, and he tosses tough ethical questions our way as he ponders that 'moment' that could change everything - and the very nature of love. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"This isn't so much a new perspective on the Cold War as an observant, compassionate, and romantic portrait of emotional turmoil in troubled times." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers are bound to fall under the sway of this richly romantic novel set against the melancholy backdrop of a divided city." - BookList

"Despite his rambling pace, Kennedy's evocative prose makes the eventual spellbinding finish worth the trip." - Kirkus Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Randy
Worthwhile read.
I found this novel to be a worthwhile read. The plot and characters came across to me as secondary. I don’t know Douglas Kennedy, but it seemed to me that they were secondary to him as well. For me, “The Moment”, could have been a book written for the purpose of providing a backstory for a betrayal (perceived or genuine). I can almost see the author saying to an intended audience, “Maybe this story will serve you, not as an excuse, but at least you will have some helpful context.” There was also an irony involved in that, as I was reading in various scenes of the book about propaganda from the capitalist and communist sides of the Cold War, I was reading it within enough of a relativist angle that it almost felt like propaganda itself.

The merits of the book more than offset anything I considered awkward. Set mostly within the context of Cold War Berlin, the book explores themes of deception, betrayal, rationalization and survival. The author does a fantastic job of transporting me into an extremely oppressive system and enabling me feel how illusive personal equilibrium would be.

I received two gifts from “The Moment”. I loved the compassion for people often marginalized or judged. They were not prettied up, but their beautiful parts shined through. The main strength of this book was how Kennedy really captures the essence of longing. I have never read a book that put me in tune with my own longing like this. It is not a tidy novel and I don’t recommend it if a story is all you are looking for; having said that, I can’t imagine a person reading it without receiving something valuable in the process. A very thoughtful and thought-provoking work!

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Author Information

Douglas Kennedy Author Biography

Photo: Paul Stuart

Douglas Kennedy is the author of eleven novels, including the international bestseller Leaving the World and The Moment. His most recent novel is Five Days (2013). His work has been translated into 22 languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has two children and now divides his time between London, Paris, Berlin and Maine.

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