Night Falls on the City

Night Falls on the City

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Product details

  • Hardback | 573 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 716.67g
  • HarperCollins Distribution Services
  • United Kingdom
  • New impression
  • 000243556X
  • 9780002435567

Review Text

Sarah Gainham has written a number of light intrigues, rather like Martha Albrand's, here dilated to a novel of some 600 pages, considerable surface spread and not much depth. Certainly not that of Olivia Manning's trilogy on the death of Bucharest. The city is Vienna from the Anschluss through to the end of the war, a primary world of events and people caught up in them. Center stage throughout is a prominent actress, Julie Homburg, married to Franz, a Jewish liberal politician, and Kerenyi, their closest friend, editor of the independent newspaper. Right after the takeover, Franz, at first unaware of the gravity of his position, attempts to reach Prague but returns to be hidden throughout the next seven years in the apartment, faithfully attended by their servant. Franz is an ailing, failing, sometimes querulous prisoner, while Julie keeps up all kinds of appearances on and off stage while drifting away from him into an easy, sentimental affair with a young officer. Then there's Ruth, Franz' niece, whom she salvages for a time but who eventually is the victim of a round-up. On and on it goes, densely, sometimes ornamentally, detailed through the months and years of day to day survival. Miss Gainham is adroit and sustains this sympathetically. But does the large cast of characters obviate the necessity of individuating them, or the prose, while easy, excuse its absence of any real style? Still the novel does have that Remarque-ability of making a painful experience painless to read, a fact certified by the Book-of-the-Month Club selection as well as strong publisher promotion. (Kirkus Reviews)show more