"Old Country" by Dorte Hansen

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Countess Hildegard von Kamcke fare no better than thousands of other winter 1945. Before the Russians come, she and her two children left her presentable farm in Mazury, to flee to the West. Only the young mother and the five-year Vera survive the privation trek across the frozen Baltic Sea; the little son freezes to death on the road. The image of the remaining stroller with the dead baby in it, and the idea that he would sink into the thaw of spring in the open sea, is one of the many packages that Vera life will have to bear.

Exhausted, lice and nearly starved reach Hildegard and Vera a half-timbered farmhouse in the Old country, northwest of Hamburg, located south of the Elbe. Welcome they are not, because the house is already full. “Woveel koomt because even vun jau Poles?” Reigns at Ida Eckhoff, “Altländer farmer in the sixth generation,” the new arrivals, and the battle lines between the two women from the beginning have been clarified.

The fire is opened.

Ida recalls the lady and the child in the “cold chamber servants”. Hildegard asked politely, but decided to eat something for her daughter. Ida blares from: “From mi poison dat nothing!” The Countess, experienced singer with three hundred year old family tree in the back, counters subtle. Mocking smile she agrees an aria from “The Gypsy Baron” to “Yes, the writing and reading / Is never been my specialty, / Because from childhood / concerned I am with pigs …”

The white Ida nothing Adequate oppose , Finally, Hildegard simply anger, hatred and rivalry operated even in the cowshed and the fruit.

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, But also respect from then determine the daily skirmishes between the two proud and evenly matched women. The East Prussian nobles occurs unable conscious and ragged on, but idleness is not familiar. She toils like a man who swings in the cowshed the fork and warbles while Mozart arias. For that Ida Eckhoff pays her sometimes with small wordless gesture recognition.

Ida has to carry their packages. Eight years earlier had drowned her husband in a drainage canal. Her son Charles, heir to the farm hopeful, is in captivity. When he returns home after the war ended two years he has a stiff leg and shattered nerves. On the nights he cries and wets the bed, during the day he sits on the bench, looking over the fields with the countless fruit trees, whistles a tune, blowing nice round smoke rings into the air.

joy found Karl at the Vera small that occurs as energetic as her mother. According bawling trodden in the summer heat through the cherry rows and thrashes “like a wind-up Trommelaffe” with a wooden spoon on a saucepan one to scare the bold stare. Karl provided the girl with bread and milk and dries her sweaty face. Hildegard impressed him by their upright posture and her singing. For the ambitions of the former property lady opens up new paths open. The following winter, the “vagabond Countess with her ever-hungry child” sits with the farmer at the large dining table in the front room, and next fall “Ida Eckhoff pulled on her old part and had a daughter who could respect and hate had to.”

“Two women, a stove that was never gone well,” and so the battles raging incessantly on. Vera commutes possible quietly and unobtrusively between the fronts, speaks Low German and High German there. Karl lives peacefully in his own world amid the turbulent rushing. The conflict escalates when Hildegard a huge, two hundred years old oak cabinet clear away leaves, to make room for a piano. While Hildegard skin triumphantly “Alla Turca” in the keys, her opponent puts on her best dress and hanged himself in the attic. Vera, who has heard a rumble, creeps up the stairs and found Grandma Ida, “dancing in the air” that seems …

Dorte Hansen’s debut novel “Old Country” impressed from the outset by a strong, exceptional characters who is to care, aggravated by the extreme circumstances of the time, bite deepest in rivalry with each other and can not let go until the match decided. So shattering the plot, so dry she tells the author, succinctly, unadorned, accurate. Beneath the surface, however, lurk biting humor, bitter irony.

Ida Hildegard died triumph could end, but there goes the family saga really begins. The interest of the Countess appears fizzles where the odds have dissolved and attracts no longer a target. She leaves her war child Vera Karl back and creates qua marrying a wealthy architect – “not still, everything is not all comme il faut , but almost” – started in Hamburg better circles. From the new marriage the daughter Marlene (Vera’s stepsister) shows. You will lead the family to the next generation and up to the present time.

Vera however, remain homeless in some way, can nowhere to take root. A permanent partner they never will. She is studying dentistry and practiced the profession, lives but because they care about the long-term care soon Karl, on the farm. In the village it is tolerated and accepted, but always regarded as something strange geratenes refugee child. Since it is not a real farmer, neglected their property over the years.

Marlene’s daughter Anne (Hildegard’s granddaughter and Vera’s niece) is the protagonist of the second main part of the action that takes place in our day and surprising new sounds strikes. While wearing her grandmother Anne’s love of music in itself, but its mediocre talent gives her no chance to meet the high-flown expectations of their ambitious mother. She breaks off her studies, but returns after the interlude of a carpentry apprenticeship with the music back. Unfortunately, there is only enough for one unloved job at the private music school “Musimaus”.

The descriptions of this institute for culture assiduous affluent citizens are among the Cream Pies in Dorte Hansen’s thematic and stylistic diversity. Far away from the oppressive refugee issue shares the author here, amusing tips. For “Musimaus” -Schnuppertag get parents to let three- to five-year offspring “simply the joy of music to” sense around hers. “Playful”, the maxim of early intervention concept, comes the expectations of prospective tenants, none of which may be alienated.

Anne hates it to the “Pied number” pull them off with her college needs day. Who do not would be difficult to maintain composure when a vollgesabberter three year old with foam-soaked children mouthful of waffle remains out his sticky little fingers on one’s precious Sopranflöte C and the mother (striped tights, flowered cloth in her hair) encourages her heart to the final access ( ” Fancy as new items, blow? “)?

elsewhere, the Hanseatic expression of Ökowelle get off their fat, and since Dorte Hansen’s biting sarcasm bitter. While colorful glossy media, the idyllic country life propagate flee town whopping academics – “Discarded” and “social-seller who wanted to start again at the farmers market” – vision loaded from the big city to the province. “Tight big city Elsen with their identity crises quengelten to ramshackle thatched houses as their daughters earlier by a pony.” You buy and renovate a Schweinegeld old farms ( “brick ruins”), create cottage gardens and orchards to simmer in their “factories” Jelly of old apple varieties. Then who is still underutilized or cured, buys sheep and produces its own cheese.

Meanwhile, fight the professional fruit-growers in the picturesque Old Country to secure their farms in a tough bioindustry scene revenues and profitability , Dirk zum Felde, a certified farmer is one of them. On his tractor he drives bitter right through the “open air museum” around him and dusted “the evil poison to the poor, poor trees”. From the “meaning seekers” and “eco-missionaries” who despise him as “farmers Bimbo” he has “fed up”.

In this conflict alive Anne with her Christopher and son Leon (in Buggy Age) and comes as little rest as their locked and driven ancestors. When she of “Musimaus” and Christoph (who already has another) is served, she leaves everything behind and moves into the Altenteiler apartment in Vera. She thinks he can make himself useful as a carpenter on the run-down farm, but the aunt would have liked things as they are – just no innovation, only break anything, what has kept so long.

The big story arc. over seven decades (including some oversubscription and some clichés) is told with cracks between the layers of time, flashbacks and many time-critical Episödchen; at the end there is the whole picture of the family history and the transformation of the old country. Like a leitmotif is above all the gable inscription of the Eckhoff-court from the 18th century: “Dit is mien Huus un doch nich mien, de no mi kummt, ook nennt’t still sien”. Closing the loop by pulling Marlene to her roots. Together with her daughter Anne, she travels to Masuria to find out what may have remained the proud property of of Kamcke. This book I have on the list to my 20 favorite books.

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"Old Country" by Dorte Hansen. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/old-country-dorte-hansen-my-review/

"Old Country" by Dorte Hansen
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