STARRED REVIEW
May 2019

Wunderland

By Jennifer Cody Epstein

A wealth of history turns Wunderland into a novel that’s both beautiful and devastating. Author Jennifer Cody Epstein (The Painter From Shanghai ) taps into the 1930s prewar era, laying out an unsparing narrative that details tragic events and horrifying legacies.

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A wealth of history turns Wunderland into a novel that’s both beautiful and devastating. Author Jennifer Cody Epstein (The Painter From Shanghai ) taps into the 1930s prewar era, laying out an unsparing narrative that details tragic events and horrifying legacies.

Renate and Ilse, Jew and Gentile, are best friends in pre-World War II Germany, but they’re driven apart in the terrible buildup to war when Ilse joins Bund Deutscher Mädel, the female division of the Hitler Youth movement. Many years later, in 1989 New York City, Ilse’s estranged daughter, Ava Fischer, receives her mother’s ashes and a trove of letters, addressed to Renate but never sent, that reveal her mother’s terrible secrets. In turn, Ava resists sharing Ilse’s history with her own daughter, Sophie, and Ava realizes that she “has kept Sophie from her own story.” 

The narrative unfolds from several characters’ perspectives, making plain “the things we lie about to make our crimes bearable,” while also opening a new door that may lead to redemption and joy for future generations.

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Wunderland

Wunderland

By Jennifer Cody Epstein
Crown
ISBN 9780525576907

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