When Greta Weissensteiner of the sleepy town of Bratslava in Czechoslovakia, falls for a Berliner bookseller, little does she know just how much her life is going to change. The Weissensteiner family has always been lucky, using their Aryan name to balance against the prejudice of their Jewish faith. But as their society starts to disintegrate and war begins, can their luck hold?
The first novel in the Three Nations Trilogy pulls you into a world gone mad. The Weissensteiners’ comfortable life as congenial outsiders begins to crumble as Nazism takes hold, forcing the family to make compromises, compromises that are not enough when World War II starts. The book follows Greta, an idealistic young Jewess whose Aryan husband takes her son and deserts her for Berlin, her stoic father and fragile sister Wilma, their extended family, and the eccentric aristocrats that try to shelter them. Fischer walks you through each loss, following the family as they are forced underground, lose their business, friends, members of their family, and then finally each other. But the real test of the famous Weissensteiner luck begins when the war ends.
Much care went into the research behind this book and the historical data is relayed in newish bulletins that seem frighteningly current. But despite the horrors and cruelty of time, which Fischer never shies from, the overall message is that, no matter how chaotic the world is, good people can still be found and family is worth sacrificing for. The luck of the Weissensteiner family will not save them from the ravages of war, but their faith in and love of each other may just be enough to see them through it.