Johanna at Daybreak

Johanna at Daybreak

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Description

At Coenraad's Lodge, a half-way house in Holland, lives Johanna von Leezen with others physically maimed in World War II. She deliberately shuts out circumstances or people who might arouse memories of her earlier life, but she is forced to confront her past when she returns to her native Germany.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 134.62 x 210.82 x 27.94mm | 340.19g
  • ALLISON & BUSBY
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0749000147
  • 9780749000141

Review Text

Johanna von Leezen is a woman past middle age, first glimpsed as stubbornly amnestic in a Dutch resettlement center for refugees after WW II. The authorities persuade her to accompany an aged couple to Astelbrucke and stay to help them settle into the home of their grandson Franz. She's filled with vague alarm at Germany and, by the kindly Franz, and often upset by the devotion of his younger sister, Agnes, whose mind and body were maimed by the war. She fears Jews. She suspects a plot against her. She dreads a visit from their uncle, but nevertheless rides off with him on his promise to drive her back to Holland. Instead, he drives her back into her past, engineers the shock that forces her to recognize herself as Frau Josef, the minor aristocrat who married a major Jewish newspaper owner, supported Hitler, helped the SS catch her husband, abandoned her small children. Her attempt to live with her old identity is wretched; the kindly Franz was really her son and Agnes her daughter, only able to respond to her when they pitied her amnesia. And so, she slips back to Johanna. . . . The elements of mystery, the comic points that underline the tragic, the theme of self-identity and its rejection are sometimes hard to follow in journal form, and hard to believe as Johanna shifts roles. Nevertheless, accepting the rather toneless inflection, a solid novel for that longstanding readership. (Kirkus Reviews)show more