Winter Kept Us Warm
by Raeff, Anne

A squatter in a Berlin apartment a year after the end of World War II meets two soldiers who change her life forever and follows the trio's entwined lives from Berlin to Manhattan, Los Angeles and Morocco over the next 60 years.

ANNE RAEFF's short story collection, The Jungle Around Us, won the 2015 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. The collection was a finalist for the California Book Award and named one of the 100 Best Books of 2016 by San Francisco Chronicle. Her stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica, among other places. She lives in San Francisco with her wife and two cats.

The winter that Ulli and American servicemen Isaac and Leo spend in an abandoned apartment in occupied Berlin creates an enduring bond. Both Isaac and Leo fall in love with Ulli, but it's Leo she chooses. The three end up in New York City, where Leo carves out a successful career in insurance, while Isaac becomes a historian. But Ulli is restless; the security she thought she craved isn't enough. And Leo has a secret life that eventually erodes their marriage. Leo moves to Los Angeles, and Ulli takes a job in Geneva for the UN, leaving two daughters in Isaac's care. Time and place shift back and forth, from the 1930s to present-­day Morocco, where, 40 years since they last met, Isaac shows up at the hotel Ulli now runs. He has been the one constant; "you were the only one who remained true to all of us," she tells him. Raeff's (The Jungle around Us, 2016) meditative novel effectively conveys the enduring trauma of war, the conflicting desires for stability and escape, and the need to connect. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

In Berlin, in the aftermath of World War II, three disparate lives come together.In keeping with its title, this second novel from Raeff (Clara Mondschein's Melancholia, 2002, etc.) delivers its story of haunting events and slow-burning passions with cool detachment. (It also reunites readers with some characters encountered in Raeff's story collection, The Jungle Around Us, 2015.) Bracketed within a contemporary narrative thread set in the oppressive heat of Morocco, where Isaac goes to visit Ulli, now a hotelier in Meknes whom he hasn't seen for 40 years, is a long sequence of flashbacks, beginning with Ulli, a teenager in Germany in 1937, embarking on her first love affair. Leo and Isaac meet as soldiers in Arizona, both medically unfit to fight: Leo has a faulty heart valve; Isaac is asthmatic. The trio comes together in a bar in postwar Berlin in 1945, and so an emotional triangle is formed, with Leo and Ulli as its lovers and Isaac the dependable friend. Enduring loyalt ies are forged between all three, but the relationships shift over time: Ulli loves and marries Leo but isn't happy; Leo has kept secrets from Ulli which will eventually force them apart. Their children, Simone and Juliet, must accommodate parents whose emotional trajectories create ever larger distances, while Isaac's role is to step into the caring void left by the other two. All this history is slowly unpeeled between scenes in Morocco where Isaac and Ulli try to bridge what has separated them. There's elegance, insight, tenderness, and craft aplenty in this pensive, melancholy story, but its insistent restraint and distance bleach away intimacy; it's as if readers are viewing the characters through the wrong end of a telescope. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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