The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
Thomas Harding's great grandfather, a successful Jewish doctor living in Berlin in the early twentieth century, built a summer house by a lake just outside the city where he and his family spent all their leisure time. Then Hitler came to power and the family was forced to flee to Britain.
Their house underwent a series of incarnations. Seized by the Nazis, it was subsequently bought for a knock down price by a successful music publisher. But he, too, lost possession when the land it stood upon became part of the East German Republic. The house was appropriated by the local government and a series of tenants enjoyed the tranquillity of the the lakeside view until suddenly, overnight, the Berlin Wall was thrown up, right outside the back door.
This book is the story of all the individuals who lived in that house and by illuminating their lives Harding renders the colossal upheavals of the twentieth century deeply personal, and therefore understandable. Compassionate and full of insight, The House By The Lake is a remarkable piece of social history.