In this unforgettable dual memoir of her parents’ lives and her own, Caroline Heller brings to life the lost world of European café culture, and reminds us of the sustaining power of literature in the most challenging of times.
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Though Paul’s life nearly ends in Europe, he reunites with Liese in the United States, where they marry. Their daughter Caroline, restless and insecure, carries the trauma of her parents’ story with her, but her quest to make peace with her heritage is eased by her love of books and writers, part of her family legacy. Through the darkest years of Hitler’s rule, Caroline’s parents and uncle had turned time and time again to literature to help them survive—and so she does as well.
Written with sensitivity and grace, Reading Claudius is a profound meditation on the ways we strive to solve the mysteries of our pasts, and a window into understanding the ones we love.
Praise for Reading Claudius
“This fine book contains moments of emotion so pure that in the end, we too fall in love with the writer’s past.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Heller plunges us lovingly and convincingly into [a] lost world.”—The Boston Globe
“Caroline Heller writes with both honesty and delicacy. I was particularly enthralled by her finely drawn portrait of prewar Central Europe: a lost world whose memories are inestimably valuable and fiercely beautiful but which, without accounts like this, would fade forever.”—Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
“Reading Claudius is much more than a work of riveting personal history. It is a feat of passionate, radical integrity. Caroline Heller has wedded the greatest level of care in her scholarship to an even deeper form of search: that in which imagination becomes not only an act of love but an instrument of truth.”—Leah Hager Cohen, author of No Book but the World and The Grief of Others
“A deeply felt and deeply thought memoir, it manages to unearth a whole lost world with aching tenderness and regret.”—Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait Inside My Head
From the Hardcover edition.