Book Buzz: Carry Me

They say that history is bound to repeat itself. I once thought that true evil, the kind that happened in Nazi Germany, could not. The atrocities seemed so remote, so other-worldly that surely this era would live on only in the annals of history.  “Never again” has always been the refrain, a phrase that perhaps over time has lost its meaning.

Because we never imagined that things would be like they are today. 

Book Buzz: Carry Me

I’m not sure Peter Behrens knew when he was writing his devastating and gorgeous novel, Carry Me, that the story would resonate even more keenly in our changed political climate. For me, the parallels were too close to ignore.

Life hums along with its normal highs and lows. You discount the random occurrences of hate mongering. The racism, the violence against marginalized groups. It can’t get an worse, you tell yourself.

And then it does.

Carry Me

Based on a true story (which makes me love it even more), Carry Me is the love story and adventure of Karin and Billy, set in pre-World War II.  The book opens before the outset of World War I. Karin is the daughter of wealthy German-Jewish industrialist Baron von Weinbrenner, and Billy is the son of Buck Lange, employed by the baron as the captain of his yacht. Karin and Billy meet a small children at the baron’s summer house in the Isle of Wight. Billy’s parents serve as caretakers and the two families are close friends.

Behrens skillfully captures the idyllic life enjoyed by these families that is upended by the wretchedness of World War I. The families are separated. Buck is arrested under suspicion of spying for Germany and imprisoned for four years. Billy and his mother Eilin find a room nearby and struggle to survive as they wait for his release. Luckily, he does come home.

After the war, the two families are reunited in Frankfurt. The baron invites Buck to come live with and work for him again on the vast Walden estate as manager of his thoroughbred racehorses. Life settles into a calm routine. Karin attends boarding school and Billy studies locally. They see each other sporadically, just as friends, as kindred spirits.

Billy gets a good job at a firm in town and Karin is happily employed in the film industry in Berlin amidst the rumblings of anti-Semitism. But then … the sporadic skirmishes become more frequent, the harassment of Jews silently tolerated if not endorsed, neighbors’ backs are turned, doors are closed, and finally a full-blown reign of terror ensues.

Jews are stripped of their livelihoods and possessions. Karin’s job is taken away. The baron is targeted as an enemy. His house is ransacked and he is left with nothing. Jews are thrown into prison and taken to concentration camps. Those who are left are frantically trying to book passage on one of the ships departing for America or Israel.

In the mist of the tumult, Karin turns to her childhood friend Billy for comfort. They fall into a romantic relationship and he urges her to leave Germany with him before it is too late. Together they will explore the plains of Texas and New Mexico that have tantalized both of them growing up, he tells her, and then settle in Canada where they will live out their lives in peace.

I won’t tell you what happens, but the ending is an emotional, dramatic conclusion to this utterly captivating story. Kudos to Behrens for the detail and sensitivity with which his tale is spun. A remarkable achievement.

NPR has called Carry Me one of the best books of the year. I completely agree.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Carry Me. Please leave a comment and a winner will be randomly selected.

 I received a copy of Carry Me from Knopf Doubleday for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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41 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: Carry Me

  1. I always love your reviews and recommendations. This sounds like an engrossing, emotional story that must be read!

  2. Of course, it sounds like a riveting read. I am going to check it out now. Thanks so much.

  3. This sounds like an amazing read. I’m adding it to my reading list since I always seem to be reading a book. Reading is one of my favorite things to do.

  4. It’s embarrassing to admit the last time I actually read a book.

  5. You are right about the author having no way of knowing how topical his book would be when published! I love your review (as always) and it’s definitely a book I’d want to read. You’ve now left me wondering what happen to the two lovebirds. I do love happy endings. What a precarious time to fall in love…

    • hbludman on February 20, 2017 at 8:54 am said:

      I’ll just say that there are twists and turns that are unexpected. Thanks, Cath!

  6. Very nice review, I will be adding this to my wish list, got several books I am reading right now but this has peeked my interest.

  7. What a great story. I will have to check this out myself and read it sounds like a great read.

  8. This sounds like a wonderful story. I need to get back into reading, I used to read a lot but what with studying I haven’t done any reading for pleasure in a long time.

  9. Looks like a truly amazing read! I hope it has a happy ending – I’ll have to read it myself to find out.

  10. Thank you for that review! I used to read a lot, but not anymore because of the Internet:( That looks like a really good book for cosy, winter evenings!

  11. Sounds like an intriguing book to me. It so hard to imagine living during that time, which makes it scary seeing what’s happening today. How can we revert back? It’s mindboggling.

    • hbludman on February 20, 2017 at 8:51 am said:

      I know. You think a horror like that could never happen again, but the similarities are just too scary.

  12. I love historical fiction, its my favorite genre and this is right up my alley, so I’ll wait and see if my lucky trend holds before I order a copy. lol. I read al lot of Steve Berry Books, but I’ve heard of Behrens. I love the speculation of unknown motives and events that are intertwined with actual historical facts. On a side note, I’d love to hear how you started writing reviews for publishers like Knoft, did you solicit them or vice versa?

  13. I love true stories as well and it sounds like a wonderful read, I love that they were childhood friends. Then their relationship blossomed, how beautiful x

    • hbludman on February 20, 2017 at 8:49 am said:

      Yes, it is not quite a traditional romance, but I won’t say more. I don’t want to spoil it.

  14. mira pstr on February 13, 2017 at 8:10 pm said:

    I will finish the book that I am reading now, and will check out this one, It looks interesting, Thank you for sharing .

  15. This sounds like a fantastic read although it is horrifying that we don’t seem to learn from history. I can’t wait to read this one – and maybe it will shed some light on how to make sure we don’t relive that tragic period in time.

  16. This looks like a great book to go through! With that time period slowly fading out as we have less and less survivors to tell their story, it’s great that they have another tale here!

  17. Wow……..this sounds like a powerful book and a reminder of what can lie ahead of us if we don’t stay diligent and keep vigilant – stand up and speak up! History can repeat itself if we let it.

  18. Cannot wait to read the book. The world today also stands divisively. Ethnic cleansing is still happening in many parts of the world. Yes, history never dies and one must learn from the scars it leaves behind

  19. This sounds like a very empowering book. Will have to add this to my reading list! I love doing blog posts about books I read 🙂

  20. How beautiful and emotional. I would love to check this one out of the library. Thanks for your honest review.

  21. This sounds like a great read and eerily maybe a warning.

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