The House by the Lake
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 2015
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2016
A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
‘A superb portrait of twentieth century Germany seen through the prism of a house which was lived in, and lost, by five different families. A remarkable book.’ Tom Holland
‘Personal and panoramic, heart-wrenching yet uplifting, this is history at its most alive.’ A.D. Miller
‘A passionate memoir.’ Neil MacGregor
In 2013, Thomas Harding returned to his grandmother’s house on the outskirts of Berlin which she had been forced to leave when the Nazis swept to power. What was once her ‘soul place’ now stood empty and derelict. A concrete footpath cut through the garden, marking where the Berlin Wall had stood for nearly three decades.
In a bid to save the house from demolition, Thomas began to unearth the history of the five families who had lived there: a nobleman farmer, a prosperous Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, a widow and her children and a Stasi informant. Discovering stories of domestic joy and contentment, of terrible grief and tragedy, and of a hatred handed down through the generations, a history of twentieth century Germany and the story of a nation emerged.
"A passionate memoir about Germany." -- Neil MacGregor, author of A History of the World in 100 Objects and Germany: Memories of a Nation "A superb portrait of twentieth century Germany seen through the prism of a house which was lived in, and lost, by five different families. A remarkable book." -- Tom Holland "In The House by the Lake, the simple villa loved and lost by Thomas Harding's family magically becomes the setting for the great clashes of the twentieth century, and for a technicolour cast - victims, villains and ordinary compromisers - struggling not to be crushed by them. Personal and panoramic, heart-wrenching yet uplifting, this is history at its most alive." -- A. D. Miller, bestselling author of Snowdrops and The Faithful Couple "I loved this book. I admire the elegance of it, the hope, the honesty and the generousness with which every resident is given his or her place. It has made me think about our individual parts in the bigger story, and the coming and going-ness of things. It is a book that will stay with me for a very long time." -- Rachel Joyce "Diamond brilliant... the history of modern Germany as seen through the windows of the wooden house beside the lake. This is an extraordinary book." -- John Lewis-Stempel * Sunday Express * "A superb work of social history, told with tremendous narrative verve." -- Ian Critchley * Sunday Times * "This is far more than a family memoir: by tracing the lives of the different families who lived there, Harding sheds light on the German 20th century, a tale of war, spies, murder and political, social and racial division . . . His account of the house is a superb work of social history, told with tremendous narrative verve." * Sunday Times * "Thomas Harding again pulls off the admirable feat of showing us anew the history of German's troubled twentieth century by focusing on a single story. With the narrative drive of a great novelist and the meticulous research of a great historian, Harding has crafted a moving, instructive and important book." -- Dan Brotzel * The Herald * "It would be hard to write an original and moving account of the tortured twentieth-century history of Germany. But, in The House by the Lake, Thomas Harding succeeds remarkably... a tragic and beautifully told history." -- Oliver Kamm * Jewish Chronicle * "An unusual, evocative and moving account of modern Germany...The book succeeds remarkably, in providing a fresh and original insight into the twin totalitarian systems that disfigured Germany in the twentieth century." * The Times, 'Books of the Year' *
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