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.