All Things that Deserve to Perish by Dana Mack

The good folks at Books Forward sent me a copy of this historical fiction novel, centering on a young woman coming of age in Germany at the turn of the century. This is a time period and an area of Europe that I’m not overly familiar with, so I found this book so interesting. The social mores and rules, the role of women, the views on religion (especially Judaism), were all new ground for me. Lisi’s story is interesting, but also sad in some ways. Mack’s writing is flowing and clearly well-researched.

Thank you for sending me a review e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

The year is 1896, and Elisabeth (‘Lisi’) von Schwabacher, the gifted daughter of a Jewish banker, returns home to Berlin from three years of piano study in Vienna. Though her thoughts are far from matrimony, she is pursued by two noblemen impressed as much by her stunning wealth as by her prodigious intellect and musical talent. Awakened to sudden improvements in the opportunities open to women, Lisi balks at her mother’s expectation that she will contract a brilliant marriage and settle down to a life as a wife and mother. In a bid to emancipate herself once and for all from that unwelcome fate, she resolves to have an affair with one of her aristocratic suitors — an escapade that, given her rigid social milieu, has tragic consequences.All Things That Deserve to Perish is a novel that penetrates the constrained condition of women in Wilhelmine Germany, as well as the particular social challenges faced by German Jews, who suffered invidious discrimination long before Hitler’s seizure of power. It is also a compassionate rumination on the distractions of sexual love, and the unbearable strains of a life devoted to art.

About the Author:

Dana is the author of two non-fiction books: The Assault on Parenthood: How Our Culture Undermines the Family (Simon & Schuster; Encounter Paperbacks) and The Book of Marriage: The Wisest Answers to the Toughest Questions (Eerdmans). An historian, journalist and musician, Ms. Mack’s articles on music, history, culture, family issues, and education have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Commentary Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New Criterion, the Washington Post, USA Today, and many other publications. All Things That Deserve To Perish is her first novel.

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