The Ragged Edge of Nightby Olivia Hawker Published 01 Oct 2018
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|Publisher||Lake Union Publishing|
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For fans of All the Light We Cannot See, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, and The Nightingale comes an emotionally gripping, beautifully written historical novel about extraordinary hope, redemption, and one man’s search for light during the darkest times of World War II.
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.
"The Ragged Edge of Night" Reviews
Prime gift for September
I loved this book and recommend it to readers who currently want to resist the ominous events presently occurring in our country.
Beautiful language. Vibrant characters. Evocative sense of time and place. Highly recommend.
Loved this story of a friar, who—though the Nazis stripped him of his office—continued to live out his calling to love and make a difference in humble ways.
This is a literary novel, told in one point of view with present tense verbs. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I felt this made this novel read like a lovely, almost poetic homily about life. Much of the story takes place in Anton’s head and heart, with his remembrances and impressions of life around him. Again, some might find this slow. However, I loved this character & his take on the world. He drew me in from the first paragraph & I could not stop reading! I finished this book in a matter of hours!
Personally, this powerful story made me thankful to minister in a Christian school where we celebrate all life, including the most vulnerable among us, those with special needs, the unborn, the unappreciated.
The characters were fleshed out & flawed—admitting they did not reach out to the Jews because they put their own children first—but redeemed their past weaknesses by finding the courage to act in loving, generous ways to those around them in spite of the personal cost.
I truly appreciated this author’s beautiful way with words. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“God opens every way for an earnest heart.”
“I cannot help but know it. Against all sense, I believe. Somewhere, beyond the ragged edge of night, light bleeds into this world.”
“This is a small happiness, in a mad and dangerous world. But it’s better than gold, better than music, to know you made another person happy. To know you’ve kept them safe.”
“Grant me one more day of love, God, and one more, and another. One more blue afternoon with my children’s voices filling the sky—this, my only music. One more sight of their breath rising in plumes against the cold, so I may know they’re still breathing. Give me time enough to fix these memories in my heart. Let me write this love upon my soul.”
“Some of these boys—they understand very little, except for love. But love is all they need.”
Negative stars if allowed.
Please, please, please, if you decide to read this book, start at page 331, the last 4% of The Ragged Edge of Night. It tells of how the Hawker comes to write this story, and how she compares OUR President Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler. If that's who you are and how you think, read on, keep your head buried and keep listening to all the fake news, created to instill these horrible, ridiculous, fabricated comparisons. Olivia Hawker, you should be ashamed of insinuating that AMERICANS armed with our constitution, with the greatest freedoms, liberties, and opportunities on earth, could compare with the atrocities of natzi Germany. You are blessed with being a citizen of this great country, and should thank God everyday that you have the freedom to write what you think. I know I am.
This is a book I could not get into. Try as I might, the overuse of metaphors made the story stagnate. The adjectives are overflowing! Too much ruins a story....and this is a good example of 'too much.'
The plot surrounding an ex-friar who responds to an advertisement in a Catholic newspaper in Germany during WWII is far-fetched and over-religious. I felt I was being sermonized to! That feeling never let up as I read on. I felt like I was forcing myself to understand much of the time as Anton flashes back to his friar days in a boy's school and forced by the SS into the German army.
I admit I am not a Catholic, not a religious person, but this book is definitely not for non-Catholics. Every few pages Anton is thinking in his own mind and his own conscience as he relates everything back to God and his own Catholic perceptions.
I would say this book is a great one for Catholics except for the flooding of metaphors. This truly hampered the book.I
Not one I would personally recommend unfortunately.
I chose this book as my First Read on September 1st, and was surprised to see that there were already several five star reviews on Amazon that morning – I can only conclude that these readers had advance copies and were thus in some way connected to the author or publisher. One of them declared that this book should be the Gold Standard for WW2 literature.
Sorry, but it’s not. As a book set in Germany it can compare only weakly with The Tin Drum by Guenter Grass. No American can write a book about Germany as well as a German – take note! This goes for The Book Thief as well, whose author I believe is Australian. In fact I’m not sure if an American can ever really understand the very European issues at stake.
For me one of the most chilling reminders of what nearly happened is a Youtube video showing the entire timeline of WW2, day for day ("Every Day"). And much as I loathe Donald Trump, the author’s note at the back only goes to show how very America-centric Americans tend to be. There is no comparison as to the danger then and now. Just ask a Canadian or Mexican today, and a Frenchman of 1940 or for that matter 1935 – how terrified are todays Canadians and Mexicans of an invasion? See? (Remember: France actually BUILT a "wall" -- the Maginot Line.)
Anyway: it’s a well written book about one man’s struggle as he deals with his own guilt, as he tries to be a good husband and father to his new family. A very introspective novel; it’s more about his internal journey than about the actual atrocities of WW2 – a contemplative book about internal conflicts. The only time my heart was in my mouth was when the little girl was running along the wall and fell into the sewage! Surely a WW2 novel has to make the reader tremble with trepidition? This didn’t happen. The bombs falling on Stuttgart didn’t scare me.
The author does try to create a subplot in which Anton works as a sort of spy but this is not well pulled off. Messages pass from village to village in the German province – far away from the hub of power and Hitler’s inner circle – and we are supposed to believe that this message-passing is vital to a plot to assassinate Hitler? No details are given. We don’t know what those messages are about or why they are so vital to the Hitler-assassination plot; we have to simply believe it because the author says so. If this spy-work was so vital we need to know why, and why he would be informed of the final details of this plot (that it would be poison), why he, Anton, was so important.
In reality Anton was a "just" a little man and would not have been able to do or know much in his position. In my opinion the „spy“ story was irrelevant; the story about the hidden bells was perhaps not so spectacular, but it was in keeping with his humble, low-key demeanor and quite moving. The author writes well about music and would have convinced me more had she kept this novel as a small personal story about a married ex-friar who saved a village’s bells. I understand her and the family’s excitement about Anton – yes, he was brave and a family icon, but he did not bring down the Nazis, as bombastically declared in the Editor’s notes on Amazon.