Margaret's Reviews > You Are Not Like Other Mothers

You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff
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's review
May 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 20th-century-literature, europa-editions, german, historical-fiction, literature, read-summer-2012, translation
Read from May 21 to 24, 2012

You Are Not Like Other Mothers was lauded as the German Gone with the Wind in the front flap description, so I was a bit unsure (I do not like Gone With the Wind). This fictionalized memoir (or novel based on the author's life depending on the interpretation) focuses on the early 20th century in Germany, and the life of Else, who wants to experience the most different elements of German society from her own Jewish upbringing. She continually frustrates convention, choosing to live her life the way she wants. Her three children have three different fathers, and Else, even with her tumultuous personal life, is dedicated to doing the best for them and defending them whenever possible. Else's position as someone who has married outside of the Jewish community but has not converted inevitably causes problems as the 1930's wear on, and she takes drastic steps to ensure that she and her two youngest children are as protected as possible.

The narration was certainly interesting in this work, since the author herself becomes a character, and later on in the sequence of events begins to add her first person experiences to Else's. My only issue with an otherwise interesting and inventive work: I couldn't tell how much of Angelika's commentary was fiction or her memories. Otherwise, this work addresses a new area of the World War Europe era in discussing middle class characters who are sure that the madness of the 1930's Germany would never corrupt their sensible and sophisticated view of intellectual Berlin and Germany. It is also a compelling story because the reader can see Else's life spiraling out of her control, her steadfast dedication to self and familial preservation, and her unconventionality for a woman at this time.

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05/22/2012 page 190
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