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Kurt Palka.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1982.
318pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-7710-6935-9.

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by George Seibel.

Volume 10 Number 4.
1982 November.

Kurt Palka has webbed together historical events, family intrigue, and an international mystery. The writing thread in this novel is changes in the family rose garden. This garden begins as the beautiful setting of a noble wedding and ends as a tragic place of execution.

The historical events of twentieth-century Austria are authentically described. The contrast of Imperial Viennese society and Nazi-dominated society is vividly depicted. Palka portrays the families drift and final acceptance of Nazi terror with integrity and understanding. The descriptive style is reminiscent of Hemingway's short stories. The descriptions and dialogues are written with a simplicity of style and language. Each of the forty-six chapters would stand on their own as a short story or vignette.

The only weakness is in the claim to be an international mystery. The climax is predictable. Within five chapters the reader guesses accurately that members of the family are trying to hide their Nazi past in modern Austria. Paul Costello, probing reporter, gets rather tiresome in his anti-hero role. However, the historical integrity, character development, and descriptive prose compensate for the predictable climax.

George Seibel, Widdifield S. S., North Bay, ON.
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