Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pg. 69: Joanna Hershon's "The German Bride"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Joanna Hershon's The German Bride.

About the book, from the publisher:
Berlin, 1865. Eva Frank, the daughter of a benevolent Jewish banker, and her sister, Henriette, are having their portrait painted–which leads to a secret affair between young Eva and the mercurial artist. This indiscretion has far-reaching consequences, more devastating than Eva or her family could have imagined. Distraught and desperate to escape her painful situation, Eva hastily marries Abraham Shein, an ambitious merchant who has returned home to Germany for the first time in a decade since establishing himself in the American West. The eighteen-year-old bride leaves Berlin and its ghosts for an unfamiliar life halfway across the world, traversing the icy waters of the Atlantic and the rugged, sweeping terrain of the Santa Fe Trail.

Though Eva’s existence in the rough and burgeoning community of Sante Fe, New Mexico, is a far cry from her life as a daughter of privilege, she soon begins to settle into the mystifying town, determined to create a home. But this new setting cannot keep at bay the overwhelming memories of her former life, nor can it protect her from an increasing threat to her own safety that will force Eva to make a fateful decision.

Joanna Hershon’s novel is a gripping and gritty portrayal of urban European immigrants struggling with New World frontier life in the mid-nineteenth century. Vivid and emotionally compelling, The German Bride is also a beautiful narrative on how far one must travel to make peace with the past.
Among the early acclaim for the novel:
"An elegantly written historical novel..."
--Vanity Fair

"At once lyrical and heartbreaking... A beautifully written tale of small sufferings and redemptions."
--Kirkus (starred review)

"Joanna Hershon's new book, The German Bride, is a surprising novel of grace and refinement. It is a tale of the American West, but unlike any I have ever read before. She enters Willa Cather territory and does it with a rare elegance and complete originality. I was not familiar with Joanna Hershon's work when I read this novel and it made me order her first two books."
––Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides

"The German Bride, Joanna Hershon's lush and gripping novel of travel and dislocation, exquisitely delineates the shock and loss that accompanied the wild ride of immigration and frontier living in the mid-19th century. Eva Shein's heart-in-the-throat journey, from Germany to Santa Fe and then further westward, is an elegant and mesmerizing testament to human adaptability and survival."
––Helen Schulman, author of A Day At The Beach

"The German Bride is a novel of great breadth and depth, a richly imagined pilgrimage into this brave new world. Joanna Hershon paints the portrait of a woman––and her family and suitors, the strange company she comes to keep––with authoritative precision; hers is a first-rate talent and here is a riveting read."
––Nicholas Delbanco, author of Spring and Fall
Read an excerpt from The German Bride, and learn more about the author and her work at Joanna Hershon's website.

Joanna Hershon's short fiction has been published in One Story, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Post Road, the literary anthology Brooklyn Was Mine, and was shortlisted for the 2007 O. Henry Prize Stories. Her previous novels include Swimming and The Outside of August.

The Page 69 Test: The German Bride.

--Marshal Zeringue