What does the seizure of a woman’s vineyard in Italy have to do with the life of a young violinist from Berlin? In Ronald H. Balson’s The Girl from Berlin these two seemingly unconnected items bring together a beautiful and touching story of love, loss, and finding your family within a world of turmoil.
The Girl from Berlin begins with an attorney in Italy presenting papers to force a woman, affectionately called Gabi, to leave the home she has lived in for years at the behest of a massive corporation. She has been fighting this company, but with seizure looming her son, who lives in The United States, reaches out to a couple he think can help. Catherine is a prominent lawyer and while she does not practice Italian law she and her husband Liam are swayed to help save the day. Before they have even set foot in Italy, Catherine is given a translated copy of the memoir of a woman named Ada, which Gabi insists she must read before she arrive. This second story focuses on the violin prodigy, Ada, and her journey to survive the growing power of the Nazis into the year 1944. Catherine struggles to find the connecting point between Gabi’s case and Ada’s story, but the more she reads and the farther she progresses into her search, with Liam by her side, the more she begins to understand how these two women are so powerfully connected.
Balson drafts a beautiful novel that works to show the power and the beauty in the world that can exist even in the most dark and terrible times. Through Ada he shows that standing up for what you believe in and doing all that you can to protect the ones you love will lead to happiness, in at least some form. This is mirrored in the story of saving Gabi’s property from seizure. While she is struggling to remain present and connect with everything that is going on, Catherine and Liam refuse to give up on her. There is so much good being done by so many people within this story that while there are terrifying elements of loss and brutality at the hands of the Nazis, Balson is still showing that humanity can do better. The Girl from Berlin is a incredibly moving and certain moments had me in tears, while others filled me with overwhelming joy. You can find The Girl from Berlin on sale wherever books are sold on October 9th, but you can pre-order it today.
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