Forty Autumns

Willner, Nina

  22 Reviews

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 couldn't come fast enough for a family separated by Germany's partition in the wake of WWII. It begins with Hanna's escape to West Germany in 1948, continues with the arrival of her daughter (the author) in Berlin at the height of the Cold War as a US Army Intelligence Officer, and finally resolves with family reunion once the wall is down.

Brimming with photos and other supportive material, this is the graphic but inspiring story of a tenacious family that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and highlights the value of political freedom.



THAM 005
The group enjoyed the multi-generational story of this family. While the historical context sections were useful, they read a bit like a Wikipedia article, and sometimes detracted from Hana's story. Ultimately we felt a more skilled writer could have helped the author get more from a good narrative.
CAMB 002
All enjoyed. We were all surprised about how harsh life was for those in East Germany, and how the author highlighted that by the comparisons made with life in West Germany and the U.S.
This book was incredibly insightful regarding the life of ordinary people during East Germany's communist years. All members enjoyed this immensely and felt they learned a lot about this period of time. It led to interesting group discussion.
CHCH 240
Thoroughly enjoyable and very topical considering the current political issues happening in Russia and Ukraine. Puts the history learned at school into perspective and gives an appreciation of how lucky we are to have the freedom we enjoy.
Highly recommended; very informative account of the life of an East German family painted against the history of the period.
AUCK 335
We all found this book very interesting both for its insights into how a family and its individual members lived under communist rule, and for its descriptions of the changing political situation which we knew little about.We wondered how we would have lived in such circumstances, what compromises we may have made, and whether we would have maintained close family ties.
We all enjoyed this book.
STEW 001
Enjoyed by every member of our group. The story put a human face to history and gave us a deeper understanding of a time in history.
All nine in our group agreed this book was a "Top 10" read. Very robust discussion - one of our ladies had travelled through East Germany in the 80s. Author's epilogue and notes excellent.
TAUR 016
This is an enlightening read and clearly painted a picture of East Germany after the US left, and the Soviets took over. Life behind the 'Iron Curtain' was a huge challenge. This memoir showed a family's courage in so many different ways. A worthwhile read, and I personally learnt a lot.
TAUR 059
This book has by far been the best book we have read with regard to group discussion. Enjoyed by everyone and touched something in all of us. Extremely relatable.
CHCH 171
Excellent - very important book. We all learnt a lot about their everyday lives. Oma's strength and resilience stood out. Great discussion questions.
WELL 041
An excellent book. All decided the best Book Club read so far for 2021.
MILT 002
Unanimously the group enjoyed the book. For many of us the Cold War paralleled our lives. Many commented on what they didn't know about East Germany. All were impressed with the family's attitude. We all wondered how we would have coped in the same circumstances.
All 10 readers found the book so revealing, and were aghast that East Germany was living under sufferance for 40 years. Well-written and researched, and showed just how important family was.
WELL 074
Enjoyed by all, for an interesting insight into East Germany and the fall of the wall which we all lived through, but didn't know how it was perceived there. Not the best writing, but a great chronicle.
RICH 005
Informative, interesting - everyone enjoyed it. Family very strong in support of each other. The history of the time was of interest, and the whole group appreciated being informed about life in east Germany alongside the world events we were all familiar with. Heart warming story of an indomitable family, intelligent and caring - who came through their experiences with courage and with souls intact.
AUCK 027
Brilliant - loved it. Enjoyed the German perspective, and loved the family angle. Several members went into East Berlin in the 70s - very sobering. Sparked a lot of reminiscing and anecdotes.
CHCH 479
A very good take on East Germany at the time.
HAVE 015
We all loved this book - well written; a fascinating story made even more interesting as it is history played out in our lifetime.
TAUR 028
100% "Like" from the book club for this book. The author's depiction of the brutal East German regime and the fight of one family to unite, is a thrilling and relevant read for history lovers and casual readers alike.
TAUR 023
An authentic family story.