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Isaac and Lulu Fabian, refugees from Konigsberg in Nazi Germany, find that their 'freedom' in Cambridge has its shackles. Lulu struggles with not being allowed to speak her native language in public, even to their baby daughter. Isaac, burdened with the unholy trinity of being German, Jewish and a communist, finds his movements severely circumscribed. He's not allowed a bicycle, a radio or a map. Nor, ultimately, his liberty. During the nationwide alien internment of 1940, he is incarcerated in Camp Douglas on the Isle of Man, along with thousands of his countrymen. Nazis and Jews alike. As far as the British government is concerned, atrocities against the Jewish people are not high on the Nazi list of crime. June Hunter, translator for the Ministry of Information thinks otherwise and is determined to prove it. Side-stepping authority she goes to the Isle of Man to interview the prisoners. But instead of stories of hardship and horror, she encounters mechanisms for survival and walls of silence. She meets Isaac, starting a chain of events that will have a profound impact on him and his family.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780316859318
ISBN-10: 0316859311
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: Little, Brown & Company
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: 5-Aug-2004
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » It is a little known fact that during the Second World War, many refugees from Nazi Germany, including Jews, were interned in a camp on the Isle of Man. The attitude of the Government and of some of the British public to them was of ignorance and prejudice and they were perceived as a danger to the safety of Britain. Although there were stories of Nazi atrocities coming out of Europe, the Government wanted proof - eyewitness accounts from 'respectable' persons. Jews were not regarded as reliable. Using this background, David Baddiel has created group of believable characters in this haunting story of the clash between political ideals and human interest: Isaac, a Jewish internee, Lulu and Rebekka, his wife and baby daughter trying to carry on without him in Cambridge, and June Murray, who breaks all the rules in order to uncover the truth. Many will know Baddiel as a comic and 'clever clogs.' The boy can write as well. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » First novel from a popular English TV personality: a tale committed to uncovering an overlooked corner of WWII history: the treatment of Jewish refugees by the British. Concerned to pay tribute to the experience of those who survived, as well as expose the dominant U.K. attitude to the suffering of the Jews, Baddiel (Time for Bed, 1996, etc.) does his best work in re-creating the atmosphere of the early war years in England. Isaac Fabian, his wife Lulu and daughter Rebekka find themselves in Cambridge in 1940, having managed to escape Hitler's Germany. Isaac, the son of a rabbi, is an avowed communist who broke away from his family to marry an Aryan. That marriage is now tested by the privations of life as enemy aliens, forbidden to own maps or radios or to travel, and offered only menial work. As Britain's war effort falters, the decision is made to remove the majority of German refugees to an internment camp on the Isle of Man. Isaac is sent, but not Lulu. Baddiel provides perspective on the establishment attitude-its innate anti-Semitism and belief that the Jews "brought a certain amount of their woe upon themselves"-via the character of June Murray, a translator working for Special Operations, who suspects the atrocities in Germany are far worse than commonly understood. June decides to visit the camp and interview its inmates, including Isaac, with whom she has a brief affair. Isaac's guilt, after sleeping with June and involving himself in a failed attempt by a group of Jews to murder a Nazi in their midst, leads him to volunteer to be shipped to the colonies. The ship is sunk by a U-boat, but we learn, in an awkward final section at Auschwitz in 2000, that Isaac survived and returned, altered, to Lulu. His testimony to June, giving her exactly the details of imminent genocide she sought, was a lie, woven from other people's experiences-but proved to be horribly prescient. An intelligent homage short on effective narrative impetus. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - David Baddiel

Co-creator of three of the BBC's most successful comedy programmes, David Baddiel has proved himself an accomplished novelist (and critic) too.

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