All That I Am
Harper Perennial, Jan 22 2013, $14.99
In 2001 in Bondi Junction, Australia Dr. Ruth Becker receives a FedEx package sent from Columbia University. Inside is a first edition of political poet Ernst Toller’s autobiography I am German with a note “For Ruth Wesemann.” Becker thinks back to the 1930s when she, her husband Hans, his best friend Berthold Jacob, Toller and his lover Dora Fabian resisted the Nazis.
Though her short-term memory reflects her age, Ruth recalls in detail what happened in the 1930s. Ruth and Toller were leftists with the playwright becoming head of the Bavarian Republic before the Nazis forced both and others to flee to London. In Great Britain, they were frustrated with their host nation’s refusal to acknowledge Hitler and so relocated in 1939 in New York where they lived in the Mayflower Hotel, which in 2001 is about to be demolished and the reason Ruth got the package.
This is a great historical fiction tale that uses real people who resisted the Nazis in the 1930s. The storyline rotates between Becker’s 2001 observations especially looking back in time and Toller’s 1939 narration. Filled with tension yet leisurely paced, readers will appreciate the courageous quintet and others as they passionately try to prevent Hitler and the Nazis from their extermination path.