In parts of the city, the whole street system has disappeared. People who were born here and have worked here all their lives can no longer find their bearings. Huge piles of rubble, concrete and collapsed buildings are the new landmarks to be negotiated, where once stood houses and the shops inhabited by industrious housewives and tired clerks, noisy children and grumbling grandparents. Winding cobbled lanes, with black and white half-timbered medieval houses huddling side by side which had survived the Plague and the Black Death, have vanished forever almost overnight .
Adam was wounded in the D- Day landings. He is now a lawyer working in 1946 in Hamburg, a city 80% destroyed by Allied bombing. He falls in love with the beautiful Rose, an aristocratic German girl struggling to survive in the ruined city by working in a brothel.
Ernst Mann, the elderly doctor who shares Adam’s lodgings, is tormented by guilt brought on by his memories of the young Hitler. He also reveals the extraordinary story of Unity Mitford, who was Hitler’s lover and may have borne his child. Adam and Rose share a terrifying experience in the Dead City, the part of Hamburg so devastated by death and destruction that it is still cordoned off. But even back in his Cotswold village of Chipping-on-the-Fosse many years later, Adam cannot escape from the shadow of Hitler.
‘This book took over my weekend – I couldn’t put it down, engrossed by the deft handling of its difficult and complex themes. I loved the ambitious but easy to follow structure, the characterisation and the thoughtful reflections on the impact of two world wars. It reminded me of “The Third Man” and “Cabaret“, and is equally cinematic. It is such a neat, poetic and satisfying read.’ Debbie Young
‘This clever, lively book zips along. The plotting is excellent and the ending .. well you simply won’t guess it. Most enjoyable.’ Gill Chilton
‘This really is a superbly written book, which conveys memorably, convincingly and psychologically aptly a huge number of emotions, sensations and moral/intellectual argument. A cracking good read.’ Dennis Hamley