The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

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The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This novel is set in a divided Berlin by the infamous 'Wall'. A young American writer is in Germany on his latest project when he meets Petra and is swept off his feet and realizes that his life will never be the same again - but does Petra feel the same?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Huchinson
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091795849

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After I'd read the blurb on the back cover I gave a bit of a shrug as if to say, well, I've read quite a number of books recently where undying love has been found in war-torn Europe, so was this book going to be different, or better? Thomas Nesbitt, middle-aged, disillusioned with love and more than a tad world-weary is trying to move on in his life. His marriage of more than twenty years is dissolving before his very eyes. But rather than being upset, he's feeling as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. He and his wife were never really in love in the true sense of the phrase, despite having a daughter together. And there's a very good reason as to why Thomas is like this and the rest of the book tells us why, warts and all.

Thomas is witty, intelligent, sensitive and I warmed to his character right from the start. His breezy conversations with his daughter (a young woman really) are delightful. But all of this is post-Petra. We need to go back in time to Berlin in 1984 when Thomas is a single man with endless possibilities. An urbane Manhattanite he's had a childhood crammed with material choices, even if his parents were less than affectionate with him. He now wants to spread his wings a little and is considering writing a book based in and around Berlin. East meets west and all of that.

And as Kennedy describes the city (both east and west) to his readers through Thomas's eyes it all makes for thought-provoking reading indeed. Even although this is a work of fiction, The Wall was painfully real to many people and we have the benefit of hindsight. We know what happened. They did not. And Thomas fully appreciates his comfortable lodgings in the cushy west. But his creative juices are flowing. He can't wait to get into the east part. He does, eventually, but it's all a bit of a palaver what with ID, passport checking, form checking (yes, all done at the aptly named Checkpoint Charlie). Everything is checked and then re-checked by the officious officials. And here, in the grey east, Kennedy's writing is very good indeed. We get a sense of the locked-in lives, of the lack of freedom to travel, the lack of being able to hop on a plane and travel somewhere at a moment's notice. Okay, the local people are fed, housed and clothed but it's all very basic, literally just above or even on, the poverty line.

And as Thomas gets engrossed in his project, he requires the help of a translator. Enter Petra. Thomas feels as if the world has stopped for a moment. He feels an instant connection with this young woman. You may think this all a bit much, a bit mushy but in Kennedy's capable hands, it's not. We know this scenario has been used countless times before but this particular story is rich in creative thinking and it just grows and grows. And I loved it.

Kennedy also weaves a complex web which takes up most of the book. There are so many interesting developments, twists and unexpected turns that I was liking it more and more. Kennedy also has a lovely poetic touch which gives a very nice contrast to his harsh chosen setting. Mistrust, suspicion and danger are present in varying degrees. The two central characters of Thomas and Petra are wonderful. They both come across as living, breathing individuals. This is a beautifully written book which is all about an enduring love, despite what some would describe as truly insurmountable circumstances. Highly recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try Letters From Home by Kristina McMorris.

Buy The Moment by Douglas Kennedy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Moment by Douglas Kennedy at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Moment by Douglas Kennedy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Moment by Douglas Kennedy at Amazon.com.


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