The Things We Cherished

  • Review
By – October 31, 2011
Char­lotte Gold was dumped by her lawyer boyfriend, Bri­an War­ring­ton, while they were deeply involved in the Euro­pean project of pros­e­cut­ing those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the geno­cide in the for­mer Yugoslavia. Since then, she’s pieced her life togeth­er again, becom­ing a com­pe­tent, well-respect­ed pub­lic defend­er in Philadel­phia and hasn’t thought in a long time about her orig­i­nal dreams of becom­ing an inter­na­tion­al lawyer and pros­e­cut­ing the Ger­mans who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the war crimes of the Holo­caust. How­ev­er, Bri­an reap­pears and asks her to assist in the defense of Roger Dyk­mans, broth­er of the famous Hans Dyk­mans, who res­cued numer­ous Jew­ish chil­dren dur­ing World War II. The charge states that Roger turned in his broth­er and there­by caused the death of hun­dreds of Jews attempt­ing to flee Ger­many dur­ing the war. Char­lotte is torn between being inter­est­ed in the case and wrestling with old feel­ings of attrac­tion toward Bri­an and anger at his easy betray­al of the bond they once shared. The sto­ry unfolds with a dra­ma that includes a beau­ti­ful­ly con­struct­ed anniver­sary clock,” a love affair involv­ing Roger and Hans’s wife, Mag­da, a child assumed to be dead, and a search for doc­u­ments prov­ing Roger’s inno­cence. A par­al­lel bit­ter­ness exists between Roger and Hans, as well as between Bri­an and his broth­er Jack, two mys­ter­ies that for a long time make no sense to Char­lotte. The sto­ry has a sat­is­fac­to­ry end­ing but not until many enig­mat­ic twists and turns in the plot fuel the reader’s desire to dis­cov­er the source of the mis­un­der­stand­ings and pas­sion­ate rela­tion­ships that lie beneath the appar­ent­ly dis­tort­ed truths.
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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