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Künstlers in Paradise

Künstlers in Paradise

Künstlers in Paradise

By Cathleen Schine

An NPR Best Book of the Year

"A moving and entertaining novel about how we revisit memories to make meaning for ourselves and others. . . . Ms. Schine has a wonderful ability to weave research and substantive ideas into her novels without weighing them down. Her buoyant dialogue has the zip of great comedy routines." ―Wall Street Journal

"Künstlers in Paradise is a tender family story, but it is also a profound meditation on the nature and power of storytelling, inheritance, and legacy, the malleability and perdurability of memory." ―Boston Globe

There was a time when the family Künstler lived in the fairy-tale city of Vienna. Circumstances transformed the fairy tale into a nightmare, and in 1939 the Künstlers found their way out of Vienna and into a new fairy tale: Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

For years Mamie Künstler, ninety-three years old, as clever and glamorous as ever, has lived happily in her bungalow in Venice, California, with her inscrutable housekeeper and her gigantic St. Bernard. Their tranquility is upended when Mamie’s grandson Julian arrives from New York City. Like many a twentysomething, he has come to seek his fortune in Hollywood. But it is 2020, the global pandemic sweeps in, and Julian’s short visit suddenly has no end in sight.

Mamie was only eleven when the Künstlers escaped Vienna in 1939. They made their way, stunned and overwhelmed, to sunny, surreal Los Angeles, where they joined a colony of distinguished Jewish musicians, writers, and intellectuals also escaping Hitler. Now, faced with months of lockdown and a willing listener, Mamie begins to tell Julian the buried stories of her years in Los Angeles: her escapades with eminent émigrés like Arnold Schoenberg, Christopher Isherwood, Thomas Mann. Oh, and Greta Garbo. While the pandemic cuts Julian off from the life he knows, Mamie’s tales open up a world of lives that came before him. They reveal to him just how much the past holds of the future.

Paperback
272 pages
Holt Paperbacks, 2024
7.15 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
ISBN 9781250892492
Historical Fiction

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