Summary and book reviews of War Story by Gwen Edelman

War Story

By Gwen Edelman

War Story
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2001,
    144 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2002,
    176 pages.

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Book Summary

War Story is a novel that has already caused heated pre-publication debate here and abroad, where rights have been sold to leading literary publishers in six countries.

What is never in dispute, though, is Gwen Edelman's power as a writer: in stark, spare language, she has created an unforgettable and passionate love affair that raises questions about morality and identity, memory and character. Is the troubled moral fiber of Joseph his human nature, or did he become who he is out of necessity, to survive the horrific circumstances placed on a Jewish boy growing up in Europe during the war?

Reminiscent of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, War Story is about the relationship between a once-famous postwar playwright and a young aspiring writer who meet in a secondhand bookstore in New York City, and begin a love affair that takes the reader from Vienna to Amsterdam, to Palestine, Paris, and New York. Told from the perspective of Kitty during a train ride from Paris to her former lover's funeral in Amsterdam years later, it is a story of how love and sexual relationships can form our identities, nurture us, as well as harm us. As indelible as it is controversial, War Story is the stunning debut of an extraordinary talent.

Excerpt
War Story

Out the train window lie the endless fields of northern France, fallow, the spiky stubble dusted with frost. Everything is tinged with white, even the flat wintry sky and the pale face of the moon which rushes headlong through the white sky although it is only noon. How is it, wonders Kitty, peering out, that the moon keeps pace with them, always just above them, moving, moving as the train speeds through the frozen countryside. Chilly air seeps in beneath the window and Kitty pulls up the collar of her coat. Every so often they pass a small village, a cluster of houses and the sharp narrow steeple of an old church. The country makes me nervous, Joseph used to say. One night with the darkness and the baying of hounds and I’m ready to pack up and leave right away. You find little villages charming? Good. You can have them. Kitty hasn’t seen him in ten years. Now she never will. Far away on a country lane a figure in high boots appears for a moment and fades...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Grand and enduring themes play out on a deliberately limited stage in this slim, haunting first novel, the story of an ill-fated love affair between a naive would-be writer and a celebrated, tormented playwright nearly twice her age.

Booklist

The wartime tales of the protagonist, a famously dark and brooding playwright and writer named Joseph Kruger, overshadow the love story in Edelman's first novel...especially suited to readers interested in fiction about the Holocaust.

Reader Reviews
Brooke

Interesting
This book, War Story, was very interesting. I liked the way that the author told the story. She told it as memories, rather than as it happened. She also skipped around to the good parts of the stories, instead of telling it straight through. I ...   Read More

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