By the author of the critically acclaimed international hits The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon and TheWarsaw Anagrams, this novel proves Richard Zimler's mastery of the "riveting literary murder mystery" (Independent on Sunday).
Berlin, 1932. Sophie is a smart and sexually precocious 14-year-old coming of age during Hitler's rise to power. Forced to lead a double life when her father and boyfriend become Nazi collaborators, she reserves her dreams of becoming an actress for her beloved elderly neighbor, Isaac Zarco, and his friends, most of whom are Jews working against the government in a secret group called the Ring. When a member is sent to Dachau, she realizes there must be a Nazi traitor in the group - but who?
Through successive mysteries, reversals, surprises, and a race against time The Seventh Gate builds to a shattering end. In its chilling but sensuous evocation of the time and place, Richard Zimler's novel is at once a love story and a tragedy - and a tale of ferocious heroism.
Would you consider the audio edition of The Seventh Gate to be better than the print version?
For me, yes. The book is long and there are many characters and a lot of foreign phrases (German and Hebrew) so it was very helpful to be "read to" on this occasion. Also, the characters came to life for me very vividly by the reader. Also, there were some very confusing transitions between past and present and flashback, and have the reader guide me there was illuminating.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Seventh Gate?
They are all spoilers so I hesitate to say. I can say though, that it's not a cheery little story; it's deep and intricate and very, very tragic at several points.
What does Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
She did a good job of reading it. She goes from a first-person dying 89 year old woman recounting her youth: to a 14 year old girl just by adjusting tone and attitude. She handles aging Jewish men, dwarves and deaf circus performers. (The man narrator only read little bits of the chapter breaks and the introduction.) She doesn't do 7,000 different voices, but she tells the story with author intent, which is my preferred kind of narrator.(I am sometimes very puzzled by the divergent opinions about readers; and sometimes shocked by the piercing comments. I guess it's a matter of taste and a very personal choice. 'Nuf said.)
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Again, spoiler. There were many, many such moments in the novel. How could there not be
Any additional comments?
The book is long and I felt Zimler could have pared things down a bit It gave me amazing insights into not only the specific horrors of WWII, but an amazing portrayal of Berlin, the city. I knocked off points because of the excessive length and because of a somewhat anticlimactic end to the solving of the "mystery" part of the story. But then, I like my "mysteries" tied up neatly.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Started slow for me, but characters are developed really well. Written in such a way that I felt immersed in the story and although long something I always enjoyed returning to. Excellent historical fiction and entertaining.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Highly recommend this book and I laughed and cried through its many many hours... Having said that, the ending is so abrupt and quite unsatisfying... not in a cliffhanger kind of way, but because of the way it starts in the very beginning.
Bringing it back to close the loop in the timeline mentioned at the start (even as a sad ending - which would be fitting) would have made it an absolute masterpiece.
Would you try another book from Richard Zimler and/or Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki ?
I would listen to books narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki. I'm not so sure I'd actually read another Richard Zimler book. At least not with a better understanding of what the plot actually is going to be about.
What could Richard Zimler have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Leave out the sex, or maybe leave out the sex with the older gentleman. Not only did it come about in an unbelievable way it was a real turn off and seemed to have very little to do with the story as it was described as a young girl gorwin up as Hitler rises to power.
I would also say the latter half of the book became so bogged down in Jewish mysticism that the plot that was left dead from lack of oxygen.
What about Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki ’s performance did you like?
I very much enjoyed their nartions. Stefan Rudnicki has a limit amount of time but his voice captured the necessary parts well and Gabrielle de Cuir's voice matched up well with our main character.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Seventh Gate?
The sex scenes. Really they seemed more like authorial wish fulfillment then necessary plot elements and how they came about doesn't seem believable.
There's a part where our leading character flees Germany and I think anything after that, except for an epilogue (which isn't there) could be cut without an issue.
Any additional comments?
The book had a very strong beginning. I liked the characters but by the end of the book Sofia, our lead, isn't very likeable in the end. I stopped caring at a point in the story I won't give away but really I just read the book to find out the solution to the mystery.
I persevered with this incredibly boring book because I wanted to see how it turned out. I was very disappointed 20 hours later to find that it just stopped. No tie back to present day, no explanation of how she got from there to here, nothing.