The Luck of the Weissensteiners is the story of a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia who faces tumultuous upheaval as Hitler rises to power. I appreciated the glimpse into the life of this family, as they face decisions about keeping out of trouble, keeping their livelihood, and keeping their family together. Bit by bit, as the story unfolds, you can’t help thinking what you would have done, without the benefit of hindsight.
The writing style was fairly stripped down, with mostly simple narrative and dialogue. I suspect the author only wanted his readers to get inside the heads of the characters, but not so deeply that one becomes too attached. I’m not sure how I felt about that. On the one hand, the horrors of the Holocaust are well-known, and heart-wrenching stories abound. It’s difficult not to feel badly for the Weissensteiners, but at the same time, the author keeps us at a distance. Perhaps Fischer didn’t want the tragedy to distract from the perspective he wanted to present: how the slow unfolding of events and hidden truths make it difficult to discern the larger picture. Another excellent aspect of this novel is the ability to get into the heads of the non-Jewish people in the novel. Fischer allows us to glimpse their attempts to rationalize the events taking place, to struggle with their own views about people different from themselves, and the inner turmoil which causes them to act – out of selfishness or selflessness.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012
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