The Ragged Edge of Night

The Ragged Edge of Night

Book - 2018
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"Germany, 1942. Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann is stripped of his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet to wed Elisabeth Herter, a widow who seeks a marriage--in name only--to a man who can help raise her three children. Anton seeks something too--atonement for failing to protect his young students from the wrath of the Nazis. But neither he nor Elisabeth expects their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war. As Anton struggles to adapt to the roles of husband and father, he learns of the Red Orchestra, an underground network of resisters plotting to assassinate Hitler. Despite Elisabeth's reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. But when the SS discovers his schemes, Anton will embark on a final act of defiance that may cost him his life--even if it means saying goodbye to the family he has come to love more than he ever believed possible." -- Dust jacket.
Publisher: Seattle: Lake Union Publishing, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781503900905
Branch Call Number: PS3608.A8886 R34 2018
Characteristics: 329 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 26, 2019

Historical fiction. Based on a true story of an in-law family member of the author.

It's a book about a mostly mundane life of a group of people that come together to form a family during the time when Hitler ruled Germany. As you can expect, those people act like strangers at the beginning of the book, but love one another at the end. There are potentially risky behaviors described, but they never lead anywhere, which was a big let down for me.

There is ample added commentary that can be used for today's political tides and societal trends. I thought I was reading too much into it. That I was biased. And then I read the closing notes from the author. This book was written in direct response to what is happening now. That just sounds more like politics to me than writing.

PimaLib_ChristineR Nov 07, 2018

This was an amazing piece of historical fiction set in WWII Germany. While fiction, this is based on the life of one of her relatives by marriage. Anton Starzmann is a Franciscan friar, teaching at a school for special needs children when Aktion T4 is set in motion, "euthanizing" those considered "life unworthy of life" and his order is disbanded.

Starzmann finds himself in the unusual position of answering a "husband wanted" ad from a young widow living in a small German village with three small children. Starzmann had been drafted but after paratrooping into Riga, he claims a bad back. He hates the Nazis as much for what they have made him do as for what they continue to do. The narrator says, "everything the Reich has done, all the cruelties and death, the burial of our rights in an unmarked grave—none of it has been Anton’s will, nor does he approve. Yet he can’t help feeling he is to blame. And aren’t we all to blame? What has brought us here, if not heedlessness or willful neglect? We have forgotten some crucial lesson our forefathers learned long ago, but ignorance is no excuse; the price must be paid."

From a haunted man unsure of his place in the world, Starzmann's desire to DO SOMETHING drives him to become a force against evil in his small corner of the world. While Hawker admits that she has taken several liberties with the storyline, Starzmann's actions on the whole are completely true. Hawker says in the afterword that she felt compelled to write the story that she had known for many years when she saw active, accepted acts of hatred becoming commonplace in the United States in the last few years. Her narrator warns: "There is only so much one person may give before it exhausts your shallow well of courage and leaves you damned and dry. Before outrage becomes commonplace, and you grow used to the horrors of this life. They count on it, the Nazis—and other villains, too. Mussolini in Italy and Baky in Hungary, Ion Antonescu, purging the streets of Old Romania—and those who, in some future time when civilized people think themselves beyond the reach of moral failings, may rise to stand on foreign soil. They want you tired and distracted. They plan to burn this world down..."

The Ragged Edge of Night was a fascinating and enlightening read about a side of the war that we seldom hear about. Hawker kept a good pace, and while the only fully developed character his Starzmann himself, it is the action that keeps this book moving and keeps it from becoming didactic. Thoughtful and moving, this is a great read for students of history as well as those who like a good suspense novel.


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