Recipient of the PEN/Hemingway Award
Shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Orange Prize
High in the Austrian alps, surrounded by a perfect ring of mountains, the village of Rosenau is made up of a scattering of dairy farms. This is a place so isolated that the arrival of a postcard from the outside world is an event that triggers everyone's imaginations. The novel opens in 1909 with Anna of Bengat homestead and her love for rough, beautiful Peter, her husband, and for their children, and for her dead sister's twin boys, Stante and Michel, one intellectually and the other physically disabled. As the years pass, the story unfolds through the eyes of the women of Anna's family and the interconnected families of Bent Elbow homestead and the Wainwright's clan: Bent Elbow's Johanna, finding sudden, late love in the summer of 1916 in the most unexpected place; Isabella, Peter's mother, who cannot bring herself to look at his ravaged face when he comes home from the Great War; Wainwright's Katharina, half- sister to Stante and Michel, careless and self-centered, who unwittingly betrays them in return for a ride in a Nazi's beautiful automobile; Anna's Olga, who grows up to marry someone she loves, only to lose him and her four brothers in the maw of the Second World War.
As we read, each chapter adds layers of meaning from a different character's point of view, and the life of Rosenau gathers force and complexity, like a living thing. We don't notice while we're watching, but when the tale is done we're stunned by the fullness and beauty of a world as remote as another planet, as near as our own longings and loves.
"An outstanding read." BOOKLIST
"This is a novel of great depth, compassion and tenderness." THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW