Hester Among the Ruins is a darkly comic novel about a love affair lived out in the shadows of World War II. History takes a contemporary twist when biographer Hester Rosenfeld very American and marginally Jewish goes to Munich to research the life of Heinrich Falk and becomes his mistress. Born in Berlin in 1943, raised in the ruins of defeat, Professor Falk is the German Everyman. Hester believes his life story could make for an important historical document, but when she delves deeper into his family's past, she finds herself reexamining her feelings about her German-Jewish immigrant parents and her complicated attraction to Heinrich. As the lovers' intimacy grows, each suspect the other of hiding something. Morally powerful, Kirshenbaum's searing novel bears witness to history's unforgettable legacy and its continuing impact.
Praise for Hester Among the ruins
Chicago Tribune Favorite Book of the Year
American Jewish Book Award Nominee
"(A) powerful and profoundly moving new novel."
—The Daily Jewish Forward
"Here is a strange, and strangely compelling, admixture of the light-hearted and haunted. Hester's passionate compulsions are both giddy and grief-laden, and what rises from the ruins is the presence of the past."
"A novel as riveting for its mordant humor as for its insightful portrayal of a romance doomed by twentieth-century history."
"Kirshenbaum's barrage of wit in both expository prose and dialogue has the reader in a titter while contemplating issues of recrimination and forgiveness."
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Quick wit and irreverence gives way to serious documentation of her German lover's past and her own emotional ambiguities as a child of immigrant Jews. Binnie Kirshenbaum's poignant and unflinching portrait of her brash American heroine reveals the painful confrontation of personal and public history."