Excerpt from Motherland by Maria Hummel, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Motherland

by Maria Hummel

Motherland
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2015, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"What's going on here?" Liesl demanded.

Neither of them answered. Hans had his arms down, his palms open and aimed back, as if he were shielding his brother from an attack. He winced when the crack split and a metal spade poked through, but Ani ran forward, saying, "Look, look!" The spade retreated. Pale worms shoved the grit aside, wiggled for space. It took Liesl a moment to realize that the five tiny heads all belonged to one hand. Filth crusted the fingernails and knuckles, but the flat palm shone. The hand's twisting made something go cold inside her, and she backed up a step, bashing into one of the shelves Hans had carefully organized for their air raid shelter. The boys ignored her.

"You're through," said Ani, and he reached out formally and shook the hand. It engulfed his fist up to the wrist. "Welcome to our cellar, Herr Geiss."

"Thank you, young man," said a gruff, muffled voice, and the hand retreated. "It's Herr Geiss," Ani said, finally acknowledging Liesl's presence.

"He's connecting us."

"Connecting who?" said Liesl.

"Us. Cellar to cellar," said Ani.

Metal glinted in the hole again. "Good morning, Frau Kappus," said the voice.

"I don't know what your father will say about this," said Liesl. "It's for our safety," interrupted Hans. "People can get trapped. It happened in Kassel and Darmstadt. If we neighbors adjoin our cellars, then we have a better chance of survival. Everyone knows that." "But a hole might weaken the wall." Liesl put her hands on Ani's shoulders and pulled him back. "Herr Geiss, I must ask you to cease this until I correspond with my husband—"

She heard her voice falter as the spade continued to work, as Ani shook free and hurried to the crack again, breathing into it. Two weeks ago, Liesl had woken to the thumps of Herr Geiss sandbagging both their roofs, clambering from red tile to red tile on his thick old legs. She knew he called her the "young wife," as if Susi were still alive and Frank had somehow acquired an auxiliary spouse. She knew that Herr Geiss was the reason Hans never got caught for poaching kindling from the willows in the Kurpark. Herr Geiss had ties high up in the Nazi Party, and people feared him. He had been Frank's neighbor since Frank's boyhood. He had helped delay the surgeon's deployment after Frank's first wife had died. Every week, he gave Liesl extra ration cards, ones meant for his widowed daughter-in-law, his only living relation, who refused to leave Berlin. Yet Liesl also knew that Herr Geiss didn't trust her. Herr Geiss had told Frank that if his "young wife" did not watch his boys well, he'd see them safely away from her, to a farm in the country. All over Germany, families were splitting up in order to protect their children, but Liesl couldn't bear the idea, and had told Frank so.

"He won't send anyone away," Frank had scoffed. "He likes you."

One afternoon following a thunderstorm, she'd opened the gray living room blinds to see Herr Geiss looming over their house from his second floor. At the sight of her, he'd flinched, then frowned. She'd blushed, suddenly aware of her narrow hips, her red springy hair, and their contrast to Susi's blond, groomed curves. The young wife. Or maybe the wrong wife.

"It'll weaken the wall," she said again, over the scraping.

There was a grunt. "I'll brick it up after I make the hole," Herr Geiss said. "You'll hardly know it's there."

The basement light stripped the flush from the boys' skin and accentuated their skulls. Even plump-cheeked Ani looked like a statue poured from molten metal, his rosy lips darkened to brass. She realized that she'd never heard the boys laugh down here.

Excerpted from Motherland by Maria Hummel. Copyright © 2014 by Maria Hummel. Excerpted by permission of Counterpoint Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Systematic Euthanasia

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Imperial Wife
    by Irina Reyn

    A smart, engaging novel that parallels two fascinating worlds and two singular women.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!