In the 1930's Alice and Carl Zuckmayer ('Zuck') and their two daughters are forced to flee Germany. After living in Austria and Switzerland they end up in the USA where they then spend five years living in Backwoods Farm, near Barnard in Vermont. Alice wrote letters to her family, and these letters became this memoir, which was published in German in 1949.
As I mentioned, the book is made up of Alice's letters home and
of course the people she wrote to would have known things the reader
does not. I would have liked some more explanation here and there. For
instance, I kept wondering: what did these people live on? Setting up
the farm and buying the animals must have cost a lot of money, as would sending their daughters to boarding schools. Alice
mentions selling eggs etc. but I doubt they could live on that. Perhaps they lived on Zuck's earnings as a writer? Being a
librarian I loved her chapters on (or 'ode to') the Dartmouth Library
but I wish she would have told us more about her research. Why was she researching the early Middle Ages? And so on... I also would have loved a map.
The Zuckmayers have a daughter called Winnetou ... Now, I don't know if he is well known in English speaking countries, but generations in the Netherlands grew up with the books of Karl May, a German author who wrote a seemingly endless stream of adventure stories. The two protagonists of his books set in the American West are called Old Shatterhand and Winnetou. I read Carl was a big Karl May fan and so he named his daughter Winnetou. I couldn't help feeling sorry for the girl. I notice that in later life she went by " Maria".
At first I had trouble getting to grips with this book, as parts of it are not written in paragraphs but in a series of sentences/statements, which I found odd and had to get used to. Have a look at a page to see what I mean:
Because of the fact that no information is added to the letters I constantly had the feeling that I was reading snippets of a story that I just would not get to know completely, but in spite of that I found it an enjoyable read.