In this utterly enchanting novel, some of the great themes of 1930s Europe are refracted through the eyes of a child who is both naive and wise beyond her years.
Kully knows some things you don't learn at school. She knows the right way to roll a cigarette and pack a suitcase. She knows that cars are more dangerous than lions. She knows that you can't enter a country without a passport or visa. And she knows that she and her parents can't go back to Germany again - her father's books are banned there.
But there are also things she doesn't understand, like why there might be a war in Europe - just that there are men named Hitler, Mussolini, and Chamberlain involved. Little Kully is far more interested in where their next meal will come from and the ladies who seem to buzz around her father.
Meanwhile, she and her parents roam through Europe. Her mother would just like to settle down, but as her restless father struggles to find a new publisher, the three must escape from country to country as their visas expire, money runs out, and hotel bills mount up.
Irrepressible Kully, her charming, feckless father, and her nervy, fragile mother are brought to life through Irmgard Keun's fast-paced prose.
Translated by Michael Hofmann.
©1981 Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
Loved it. The narraration was probably one of the best of any audiobook I've "read"- completely fit the character. I almost forgot I was listening to a book at times, it seemed like I was just listening to someone speak.
I agree with the previous reviewer about the story not really going anywhere, but I believe that's the author's intent, to paint a picture of a girl's life in exile rather than tell a story that moves along at a certain pace.
This book reminds me less of The Diary of Anne Frank and more of Stones in the River, providing a real understsnding of what Germans' lives at the time of WWII were like.
The mundane storyline and conversational narrative style belie the beauty of this work. I found it exquisitely boring until -- after listening to nearly half of it -- I became aware that this was a book very different than the one I had expected and adjusted my mindset accordingly.
This isn't a typical plot-driven work of fiction. It is a glimpse into the life and personality of a child growing up abroad, in the years leading up to the cataclysm of World War 2. Approaching this lustrous ribbon of luminous prose with an open mind and a bit of whimsy is its own reward.
As a literary experience among other works, I give it 4 stars. As a delight and as entertainment at such an unbelievably low price, I give it 5!
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