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The Exiles Return

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  432 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
The Exiles Return is set in Occupied Vienna in 1954-5. It describes five people who grew up there before the war and have come back to see if they can re-establish the life they have lost.

The novel begins with Professor Kuno Adler, who is Jewish and fled Vienna after the Anschluss (the events of March 1938 when Hitler’s troops marched into Austria). He is returning from N
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Picador (first published March 11th 2013)
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Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone-books
A book that suits its dove-grey covers very well ...

I was intrigued by The Exiles Return as soon a I saw it written about, as a forthcoming Persephone Book last autumn. The authors name was familiar, because it was her grandson who wrote The Hare With Amber Eyes, a book that I think everyone in the world but me had read. But this was a book that hadn’t been read, though the author made every effort to get it into print.

And yet it holds a stories that have been little told. Stories of exiles retu
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Persephone generally publishes books that have often enjoyed great success in the past, but have been out of print for a number of years. This is not the case with The Exiles Return. The author Elisabeth De Waal was the grandmother of Edmund De Waal who wrote the hugely successful The Hare with Amber Eyes – which I have not read – I think I might though now. It is solely through his efforts that Elisabeth’s book is now available. The manuscript of what became The Exiles Return Elisabeth De Waal ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Loden--people really wore it back then. This book has some beautiful descriptions, of characters and of places, that kept me going through its slow development and awkward dialogue.

For example, there is an electrifying scene of one Austrian scientist named Krieger telling the (Jewish) scientist returned from exile about Krieger's wartime experiments on prisoners. Krieger points out that they were Roma, not Jews (he seems to think his audience will approve). He goes on about how these experiment
Claire McAlpine
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
She wrote 5 novels and long after her own death, thanks to the success of her grandson's award winning book Edmund De Waal's The Hare With Amber Eyes, we now get to read that most personal of all the stories she wrote, Elisabeth De Waal's The Exiles Return inspired by her own return from exile to Vienna after the war.

The return is never really the return, it might be another beginning, if one is fortunate, for other's it represents the end.

My complete review here at Word By Word.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars -- closer to 4 than 3, so I'm rounding up.
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-good-stuff
I knew going into this that it was about several different people. But once I started reading and I totally got into Professor Adler's story, I forgot about that. When it switched to another character, I didn't want to leave Professor Adler. But after about a day of sulking, I picked up the book again and went back into it.

The style of writing may not suit today's taste for all action all the time, but I really enjoyed it. I felt like I got to know the characters inside and out, and I liked the
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I began this novel, I didn't read the author bio on the back flap. After a few pages, I was delighted to find a new author whose style actually evoked/matched the period that they were writing about. Then I discovered that de Waal was writing in the 1950s. Oh well!

This was a delightful read. The three threads of the plot are woven effortlessly together. I especially enjoyed following Professor Adler's journey home to Austria after fleeing the country to avoid Nazi persecution and the death
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
as this is a recovered manuscript it holds up well. The subtleties of her writing was what I liked. Now the endings can seem trite but at the time in the 50's each character's end would have been unexpected. I really liked the beginning of the book. This was what I was expecting in reading Trieste but didn't get. It puts into intimate descriptive fiction so much of the 50's history as she experienced I believe.
Erika Dreifus
Please see my review in The Washington Post.
Trevor Pearson
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
Received a copy of The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Wall through the First Reads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review

"Social relationships were at best superficial, they could be pleasant if treated lighthearted,
they could easily be hurtful if too much was expected of them."

For elder statesmen Kuno Adler and Theophil Kanakis their home of Vienna, Austria is definitely where the heart is. With respect to the young and impressionable New Yorker, Marie-Theres Larsen, she is still searching
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Die Tatsache, dass dieses Buch erst nach dem Tod der Autorin von einem Nachfahr veröffentlicht wurde, verdient schon ein Sternchen.

Das zweite Sternchen kommt für die spannende Thematik – Österreich in der Nachkriegszeit und die mehr oder weniger misslungene Restitution.

Der dritte Stern bekommt für mich die Figur Kuno Adlers. Ich habe seine subtile und mutige Verhaltensweise sofort ins Herz geschlossen und habe mich über seine Entwicklung während der Geschichte sehr gefreut. Die zweite Hauptfig
I really enjoyed the book, however, I think it got slightly distracted towards the end. I thought it lost it's way.
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
I must be one of the few people who hasn't read The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, though one of my reasons for not having done so has to be that it was written this century and I've been reading a lot from the last one. When I was asked if I'd be interested in reviewing one of the most recent Persephones, though, the description made me leap at the chance. It's a previously unpublished novel about five people returning to Vienna in the early 1950s, and there was every indication that i ...more
Nicole Overmoyer
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
For me, as a lover of all things historical, wars are fascinating. As a lover of fiction, fiction based on reality, it's the aftermath of the war that's as fascinating as anything else.

This made the posthumous publication of Elisabeth de Waal's THE EXILES RETURN the perfect choice for me. The blurb on the back cover even proclaimed the book to be similar to one of the most moving books I've read about the effects of war on the average man; EVERY MAN DIES ALONE by Hans Fallada. I was hooked by th
What a brilliant book, a sharp and witty study, as mentioned by one of the reviews on the back cover. Judging from the fairly low reviews this book has received it is worth pointing out that the summary and the actual contents of this book can easily be seen as two different things. However if I had to describe "The Exiles Return" it would be as something similar to Anna Karenina in terms of the drama that ends up unfolding, quite unexpectedly and much to my pleasant surprise, throughout the boo ...more
Miriam Murcutt
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
The Exiles Return promises a lot but then fails to deliver on some fronts. The setting is Vienna in the early 1950s in the aftermath of World-War II - a disheveled, occupied city keen to recapture its illustrious past. The characters are a potent mix of those who fled from the Nazis, those who stayed and fought them and those who remained and co-operated with them. The publisher’s cover blurb talks the book up a storm, and the Foreword by the author’s grandson, Edmund de Waal, (author of the bea ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
The exiles are a group of people who have returned to Austria at the end of the Post War occupation - Adler, the Jewish scientist, leaving his wife who has become a successful entrepreneur in the US, Kanakis, the esthete heir of a wealthy Greek-Austrian family whose family astutely left Austria for America despite not really being threatened by the Nazis or the war, Risi, the daughter of a countess and her American husband, sent back to find herself in the company of her titled aunts, and Nina a ...more
Elsie Klumpner
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charlotte Landheer
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
My opinion on the book

If I would have seen this book in the library or in a bookstore I probably wouldn’t have picked it very quick, although I’m really into books about war. So there’s a story behind my choice. That is namely because the author of the book, Elisabeth de Waal, is family of me. The thing is that Elisabeth de Waal was married to Hendrik de Waal. And he was the brother of the father of my grandma’s mother. That was Jacoba Brigitta Bruin and her daughter was Henriette Louise Bruin,
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Charming, bittersweet, lovely, but minor and definitively not the great unknown novel that is promised, The Exiles Return cover the lives of a few diverse characters in damaged post-war Vienna, as Austria, trying to get over the Nazi years, stumble toward independence from the allied powers. The book was never published during de Waal’s life. She certainly has great knowledge of the era and, even more, because of her own origins and life, of Vienese society. No surprises, then, that it is in thi ...more
Nicholas Finch
Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Beautifully written and some wonderful moments and characters that served as microcosms into post-war Vienna. This being said, I have many bones to pick with this book. The narrative was engulfed into the upper-class and their post-war plight. Knowing Waal's background I can see why she told their (the upper-class) story but there was not even the slightest mention of anyone but those whom had wealth, at least not by name. There were some rich and vibrant characters but I felt that they were mor ...more
Nov 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I received this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

This novel is set in 1954-1955 Vienna, a place still recovering from WWII and just about to regain independent status again. It centers around three people who have come to or returned to the city for various reasons. Dr. Kuno Adler is both returning to his pre-war home and life and escaping from his increasingly stifling life in NYC. Theophil Kanakis is returning to re-establish himself as the scion of a wealthy and prominent Vienna family.
Michelle Sharp
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
I've just reached the halfway point of The Exiles Return, it's okay. Mostly everything that happens in the stories is so mundane that it barely warrants mention. To some extent it's almost like Austria is the main character and each story serves to describe it from different angles.

Two beefs at 158 pages in--so far no one in the stories is French, has been to France, speaks French or anything that might explain why the author chose to throw in odd French phrases or number-words; the other beef i
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
‘The Exiles Return’ focuses on three people arriving in Vienna from the USA after the Second World War. Kuno Adler is a Jewish scientist claiming his right under the reparation agreement to be reinstated in his old job. Theophil Karakis is a hugely wealthy businessman of Greek ethnicity who left because there was more money to be made in the States but now wants to find the perfect house and surround himself with antiques in the city of his birth. Marie-Theres Larsen is the disaffected American- ...more
Marthe Bijman
May 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
I loved, no, adored, The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal, So I read this, which is by his grandmother Elizabeth. The novel was unfinished, and lay untouched for decades, and his grandmother herself had not cared too much for getting it published. De Waal stitched it back together (he explains this in the foreword) and this is the result. It is a product of her time and upbringing, and so portrays fairly accurately, I think, the setting of Austria during and after the Anschluss in the 193 ...more
Apr 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I saw a review for this somewhere or other and it sounded interesting. It was, but having been written (I think) in the 1950's, it does have a dated feel. The exiles are a Jewish professor and the daughter of a Hapsburg princess who return from America to Austria during Allied occupation and restoration following World War II. The stories of the two are separate, though there is some overlap in people they meet. The character of the daughter was completely befuddling to me and not at all realist ...more
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure the title was apt enough, as it's a bit misleading and adds a layer of significance that doesn't ever present itself. That said, it's a beautiful book in that it's well written, with interesting characters and plot projections, and since I had no idea I ought to try, I could not have guessed the ending, which came as a bit of a surprise. Moreover, it felt as though the story was done a third of the way through the book; I feel almost compelled to pick up the pen and finish the story ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it

sorry about the title, this is 'the exiles return' by elizabeth de waal. an important memoir of world war II.
ms de waal's grandson, who is the author of 'the hare with amber eyes', discovered this novel written decades earlier, and put it in book form. the story takes place while germany and austria are partioned by the allies after the war, and describes through its characters how life in austria during that time was experienced by those who returned after having left before or during the nazi
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: austria
Interesting book about a young American/Danish/Austrian girl's return to Vienna, the city of her mother's birth, several years after the end of WW II. Marie-Therese (described as a "brooding" teenager) is aimless at home and sent to meet her mother's sisters. I had some trouble with the character as she seemed unaccountably aimless and even dull - tho described as very beautiful she seemed to have no character at all. However, several characters are wonderfully alive in the interesting but uneve ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, have-it
I received this book through a First Reads giveaway. It has taken me longer to remember to write this review but I do remember really enjoying reading this book when I received it. I liked the way the characters' stories were interwoven just enough but not too much to be piled on top of each other. The competing and connecting storylines made for such an engaging read. Everything did not get tied up into a pretty bow at the end and while that can be hard as a reader sometimes, I think that in th ...more
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Around the World ...: Discussion for The Exiles Return 1 15 Apr 14, 2014 08:07PM  
Around the World ...: Giveaway - The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal 11 55 Mar 28, 2014 12:41PM  
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Elisabeth de Waal was born in Vienna in 1899, the eldest child of Viktor von Ephrussi, of the banking family, and Baroness Emmy Schey von Koromla. She was educated at home and at a leading boys' school, studied philosophy, law and economics at the University of Vienna, and when only 19 gave a paper at the first of Ludwig von Mises's legendary Private Seminars on economics. She completed her doctor ...more
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