Judenstaat by Simone Zelitch (3 out of 5)

I got this copy from Anne, our St. Martin rep. It appealed because it’s world history AND alternate history. I am a fan of both, so if I can find both in one fell swoop, I’m in. The book is out now. I didn’t fall head over heels like I normally do, but it was pretty good regardless. I would say there is one functioning part of the book that made it feel like Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. I don’t love that book, the author, or the literary device used that makes an appearance in Judenstaat. Having said that, the writing is clean, concise, and only slightly misshapen, and it is all due to that one thing. It would make a great gift for fans of alternate history, but with a touch of inadvisability. 

April 4, 1948, the sovereign of Judenstaat is created in Saxony, with Poland and Czechoslovakia bordering it. 40 years forward, and a historian named Judit Klemmer (ironically, the same name as a character on All In The Family in the late 70’s. The wife of Edith Bunker’s friend who harbors a crush on her. My association as thus made it hard for me to read the lead character without picturing the classic 1970’s show. It also shows from my level of distractible thinking that I wasn’t totally buying into the book. Sadly) is making a documentary on the History of Judenstaat. The widow is also battling the ghost of her husband Hans, who was murdered while conducting the National Symphony. Judit has no idea what to think when she is alerted…by the most unique of ways…that something is fishy in Denmark (which doesn’t border Judenstaat, incidentally). She begins replaying the footage and delving further into not only the mysteries of that history, but to her husband’s mysterious murder. What she finds? Well, it’s certainly something. And there’s a reason we call it alternate history.

I really liked the idea of a post-WWII Jewish state in Germany rather than in Palestine. What I didn’t love was the delivery of it in this format, and bookended with the plot. I really did not like the Dickensian plot device. Where that came from? No idea, but it sends the book into a slight tailspin from which this reader never quite recovered. The possibility of there being more to the state of Judenstaat is an interesting premise, but once executed, turns into a whirling dervish with no end in sight. The end really does not justify the plots. I thought it was a fantastic idea, but the frayed ends that are to be tied by the end were so muddled that the reader stops giving a crap. At least this one did.

~ by generationgbooks on September 12, 2016.

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