Berlin, the Cold War and love. Present day Maine, a redone house, and divorce. These are the backdrops for this novel about love and choices by Douglas Kennedy. Thomas Nesbitt writes travel books and while doing so, isolates himself from his family. Divorce papers arrive on his doorstep intensifying his already tense mid-life crisis. Then, just as he is settling in to his new life, a box arrives with the name "Dussman" on it. The name brings with it memories of a very special love affair from the past. Ignoring the box and its contents only works for a while. Petra Dussman was Thomas' true love, the woman who stole his heart amidst the tragedy of a divided Berlin. As Thomas confronts the memories and the consequences of the choices that were made, the reader is completely drawn into the story of the two lovers. Douglas Kennedy uses this complex story to explore why people fall in love and how choices can totally change the lives of those involved. Is it really true that love conquers all? When is "the moment" that changes a life?
This intense novel was hard to put down. There were so many moments when I couldn't figure out why Petra and Thomas had separated, yet at the same time, I knew. The story has many twists and turns built around believable characters and settings. Not only is this a great book for historical fiction lovers, but will lend itself nicely to book club discussions. There is even a discussion guide available! Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my advanced reader's copy and the opportunity to review the book.