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The German Bride


The German Bride

loved THE OUTSIDE OF AUGUST by Joanna Hershon, so I jumped at the
opportunity to read and review her current work of fiction, THE
GERMAN BRIDE. Although I didn’t like the latter as much as I
did the former, both books are written beautifully. The one big
difference is that while THE OUTSIDE OF AUGUST is set in
contemporary times, THE GERMAN BRIDE is a historical novel, taking
place in the 1860s. There’s almost an epic-like feel to it,
with the story set initially in Germany and then moving on to

Eva Frank and her sister, Henriette, are two young ladies who are
having their portraits painted at the start of the story. They are
both unmarried and live a life of ease with their parents.
Henriette is the older of the two, but it is Eva who catches the
eye of the painter, and soon the two are having a secret love

After a tragic accident occurs one night, which fills Eva with
tremendous guilt, she hastily marries (after a very brief
courtship) a Jewish German merchant, Abraham Shein, who claims he
has built a fortune in America. She leaves her home in Germany for
the unknown American Wild West with a man she barely knows, hoping
to forget the tragedy and move on with her life.

While she thinks she has escaped this terrible incident, it still
haunts Eva in many ways, as does her affair with the painter. She
also realizes, after many years of hardship in America, that what
Abraham promised in terms of a home life of comfort and ease was
not to be. She struggles with her marriage, her desire to create a
baby, and her need to live in some sort of luxury instead of the
ramshackle place they have in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It doesn't help
that her husband is rarely home, and it isn't for a long while that
Eva understands what is enticing him away.

While the reader may not connect with the characters, one will
agree that Hershon does a magnificent job bringing to life the
backdrop of the American West. One can imagine the hardships that
immigrants faced from the time they left the port in Europe to the
moment they set foot on American soil, often dreaming of a better
life but never finding it. The author uses Eva to paint the story
of the Jewish German immigrant, in particular those who settled in
New Mexico and the harsh lives they led to achieve some sort of a

I can imagine that Eva's story doesn't end here, and I would be
delighted if Hershon continues it in a sequel. Although difficult
to read at times, I appreciated the beauty of Hershon's writing and
her success in capturing this part of American history through the
fictional lives of Eva Frank and Abraham Shein.

Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton ([email protected]) on January 22, 2011

The German Bride
by Joanna Hershon

  • Publication Date: March 25, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345468457
  • ISBN-13: 9780345468451