Originally posted Sept. 29/08
A Rare Glimpse into the Collapse of Berlin between two World Wars
A most in-depth book that takes the reader from the birth of our heroine Lilly Nelly Aphrodite at the very beginning of the 20th century through her years in an orphanage and the poverty of the people of Berlin over the next few decades beginning with WWI. Lilly is orphaned shortly after her birth. The closure of the orphanage leaves the girls vulnerable to all kinds of situations on the streets and in the clubs. Although this book is fiction, it seems so real with an unusual glimpse of a major city’s downfall, it’s wild debauchery, the fight against starvation and finally the fear of being discovered as the wrong ethnic background as WWII begins. The stories are told with the conviction of truth.
Don't get me wrong, the book is not about the wars, they are background, but you will not find battlefield hands on fighting as such; this is very much Lilly's story but one cannot be told without the results of the other.
Lilly attempts to remain aloof from these methods of obtaining money or food, but eventually is discovered as a potential “true” actress. Her history eventually leads her to America but there is an ongoing love story throughout the book that is much of a “star-crossed” lovers story, which brings her back to Germany around 1940. My interest was held as much by the history of Berlin in these terrible times as it was by Lilly’s story. It is not often you will be taken on such a trip through life and I found the book fascinating because of it. I would certainly recommend this book for several reasons and on several levels. The research done is amazingly thorough, and the plot an eye-opener. These were turbulent times in many countries, but we rarely get to see the life on the opposite side. Very well written.