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Winter Kept Us Warm

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  73 reviews
A bold and haunting novel that sets love against the brutality of WWII and post-war life

Ulli is a young woman, half-English and half-German, squatting in a dismal, empty Berlin apartment, one year after the war has ended. She’s scraping together a living as an interpreter between Berlin-based GIs and the wide-eyed local girls eager to meet them. One night, Ulli meets two A
...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Counterpoint Press
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  337 ratings  ·  73 reviews


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Angela M
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it

There’s a somber, serious tone, a surprisingly quiet novel given that this is a story of war. The focus, though, is mostly about after WWII when the three main characters meet in Berlin. It about how the war shaped their futures and how their relationships evolve over sixty years. Three friends, two American soldiers, a young German woman form a close bond, yet the secret life of one is held closely by one and kept from the other.

I was immediately pulled in wanting to know Isaac and Ulli’s conne
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Fran
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Faith
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought this book was a contrived, melodramatic tear jerker but the writing wasn't bad. I can't jump through the hoops required to review this without spoilers so I have put the whole review under a spoiler tag.

(view spoiler)
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Jaksen
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Won this book through a Goodreads giveaway! Thank you, Goodreads!

This book is plainly for those who like a long, slow, sentimental read, one that mines characters' personalities, histories and motivations while linking them together. Who did what when; who said what when; who left whom and why. It's the story of three people who first meet in post-WWII Germany. They live and love, prosper (or not), move to New York, meet up again here and there. There are children; there are moments of extreme a
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Kasa Cotugno
This is a beautiful take on war's aftermath, employing connections that would have been impossible if the protagonists hadn't met due to the consequence of war. Ulli, Leo and Isaac meet in Berlin, and form a threesome reminiscent of the three in Jules and Jim. Hidden secrets and motivations, a touch of melodrama, but the reason I don't give this a solid 5 star rating is my memories of the memoir A Woman in Berlin are still so strong years after reading, that the realities of life in that city at ...more
Jessica Treadway
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is easy to read in terms of the beautiful, flowing narrative – its simple and elegant style – but to its credit, it’s not easy to read when it comes to the emotions it will make you feel. There’s much joy in this story about a decades-old love triangle, and how the three lives involved overlap and intersect beginning just after World War II. There’s also a great deal of rich and poignant heartache, of the type we feel only for the people we love the most. I happen to love rich and poig ...more
Barbara Ridley
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A beautiful novel with characters that will stay with you long after you have finished reading. From the opening scene when Isaac, now in his eighties, arrives in Morocco to visit a friend from his distant past, you know you are in the hands of a skilled writer. Raeff seamlessly moves from the present back over the decades, covering territory as varied as Berlin in the immediate aftermath of WWII, a POW camp in Arizona, New York in the 1950's and Los Angeles in the 1960's, as the mysteries of th ...more
Marilyn
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Winter Kept Us Warm by Anne Raeff in a goodreads give away in exchange for an honest review. As Raeff began her novel, World War II had ended and the reader meets Ulli, a young girl living with her parents in Berlin, being groomed to take over her father's typewriter business. Since Ulli had no interest in taking over the business, she moved out of her parent's apartment and found an empty apartment that she made her own. Gradually, she found that she could make good money a ...more
BLONDE vs BOOKS
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, worldly
Winter Kept Us Warm is a melancholy story, alternating past and present, about survival, desperation, identity, friendship, balancing success and family, and the repercussions of war.

Raeff takes readers on a poignant journey, not only through the characters’ reflections, by also through radical time periods set in Berlin, New York, Russia, California, and Morocco

For war aficionados, history buffs, and anyone who appreciates storytelling at its best, this novel is a riveting must-read.

CLICK HERE
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Ethel Rohan
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I read I'm most interested in language and relationships. This story of three main characters and their love triangle (and its secondary love triangle of children and single parents) made for an immersive read.

The precise writing imbues character, place and time with a vivid and lovely aliveness. A heartfelt, thought-provoking work, WINTER KEPT US WARM left me thinking about dilemmas and pain, particularly around not always being able to fulfill the roles society forces on us, and love ones
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Minrose Gwin
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having greatly admired Anne Raeff’s collection, The Jungle Around Us, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction in 2015, I wasn’t surprised that her new novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, is an exquisitely beautiful story that has lingered in my mind long after I put it down. The novel traces Ulli, Isaac, Leo, and their two children through time (fifty-plus years) and space (around the globe), but this capaciousness comes with intense psychological revelations about each of the characters ...more
Kalen
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. Raeff teases the story out slowly--you know very early on there's something unconventional about the relationships but the whole picture isn't revealed until nearly the end.

I wasn't anywhere close to ready for this book to end. And I may have cried a few times.

This will be a great one for book groups because there is so much to talk about regarding people's choices and motivations.

What a wonderful story, executed perfectly.
Joanna
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-library
First I have to thank Goodreads ....for letting me win this book.I'm giving it 5 stars for beautiful writing and excellent story.The main characters are so believable I had to remind myself that this book is a fiction.The story stretches probably for 50 years with a love triangle...sadness...happiness....disappointments...it has it all.I really enjoyed reading it.
Jana
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is how I like my books. The narrative weaves around time and place, always in the presence of one, or all, of the three main characters. It’s beautiful. It’s heartbreaking.

For me, it feels the musical equivalent of a Beethoven symphony slow movement.

Thank you Russell for the signed copy by an author and novel I knew nothing about.
Paul Wilner
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My interview with Anne Raeff, for ZYZZYVA magazine, follows below:

http://www.zyzzyva.org/2018/02/08/str...
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Bolg
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway, so first off, Thank You very much for giving myself and all of us these kinds of opportunities!

I must say, I enjoyed this book from cover to cover.
The 3 main characters are all interesting in their own right, and the way their bond is told makes the overall relationship that much more captivating.
As the first reviewer stated, I personally began to feel like these were real people I was following, rather than fictitious characters. Sure there may be s
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Phyllis Krall
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ulli is an interpreter living in Berlin after the war, when she meets two soldiers , Ivan and Leo . The three form a unique friendship that spans many years. They eventually move to Manhattan where Leo and Ulli get married and Ivan continues his education . Their lives connect in a special way, when Ulli has two daughters who become very close with Ivan. The years unfold from New York to California and Morocco as everyone’s lives change . The thread connecting the three characters becomes unbrok ...more
Kathleen Gray
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A love triangle which began in post WWII Berlin is an interesting starting point for what is in many ways an old fashioned family saga. It covers 50 years of the lives of Ivan, Ulli, and Leo, crosses continents, and so on. This is more character than plot driven (although it does clip along at a good pace.). Each of these people will feel very real to you as they make their ways through the years with and in some cases without each other. There are some secrets and some lies but the important t ...more
Janet
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I just never warmed up to these characters. (Sorry for the pun.)
Marie
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

Especially engaging for me were the scenes in Berlin, right after tWWII ended. I got more of a real sense of what that was like from this novel than from nonfiction that I have read. One of the most remarkable things about the novel is how quiet it is, and how much respectful space Raeff allows her characters. While their inner thoughts and feelings are sometimes conveyed in a sentence or two, Raeff largely documents these without dwelling there.
Susan Edgar-Lee
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 I was almost decided on three stars but the book pulled it out at the end. She ties together themes of abandonment, awakening sexual identity, friendship and loyalty into something that ultimately did make me care about the characters. You can read the book summaries for yourself I would say thumbs up.
Gail
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found the novel very well written, engrossing, sad and upsetting. Although the author presented characters which due to their traumas exhibited strange or none existent parenting practices, I could not abide those practices.
Debbie
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a heartbreaking story! Don't say I didn't warn you. The book starts during WWII and focuses on 2 Americans and 1 German whose lives become entwined and stay that way for the next 60 years. I thought it was told really well.
Jane
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Serious readers, you are in for a treat if you read the extraordinary WINTER KEPT US WARM by Anne Raeff. Raeff created three lovable, flawed, complicated, deep, memorable characters with Ulli, Isaac, and Leo, and it is easy to fall in love with all of them. Each one is endowed with a compelling inner life, and yet Raeff expertly knows when and how to keep the novel moving forward. You'll be treated to landscapes as varied as The Soviet Union and California. You'll be in the hands of a writer who ...more
Patricia
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and haunting this is a story of love, sexual identity and loss. Two men, Leo Buchovsky and Isaac, meet in the US army during WWII. Leo has a bad heart and Isaac has asthma. In the desert of Arizona, Russian and German POWs are being held. Leo meets Bidor Uzbek, a Russian, and they are drawn to one another. Leo and Isaac are deployed at the end of the war to Berlin where they meet a German woman, Ulli Schlemmer. Isaac falls in love with Ulli, but she is attracted to Leo. Leo marries Ull ...more
Roger DeBlanck
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Raeff’s characters are so incredibly well drawn and she examines their lives with such tenderness and heartbreaking beauty that I felt the depths of every hardship along with them. Leo, Isaac, and Ulli meet in Berlin in the years after the Second World War. Isaac and Leo are soldiers who remain stationed in Germany as part of the American military force. Ulli is a German girl scraping by as a translator for the American troops. The three develop an inseparable bond held together by the pain and ...more
William
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
There is a lot I liked about this book, especially a smooth and somewhat languid writing style.
The structure is somewhat unusual, since the story unfolds in pieces, and switches time periods frequently (and locations -- Morocco, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Switzerland, New Jersey and more).

I realize some readers had difficulty relating to the central characters, but they worked pretty well for me in that I found them interesting people. But somehow Ulli's decisions, which are central to the p
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Elyce Wakerman
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This has been called a book about absence, and unfortunately one of the things I found continually absent was coherent information from one page to the next. For instance, we are told immediately that Ulli was "surprised" by Isaac's appearance at her Moroccan hotel, yet not a scintilla of surprise was registered. Later, we learn that Isaac is puzzling over Leo's invitation to New York; again, we did not see what would be this pivotal scene. On the brighter side, much of the prose is elegant, man ...more
Katrina Balle
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I won this book from a Giveaway and glad I did! It is a great short story for those who need a break from a trilogy or a saga. It tells the story of 2 soldiers who encounter a girl at a bar in Berlin of Post war Germany in mid 1940's. They begin an odd friendship. The 2 soldiers were already close friends who knew history of their respective pasts. The girl comes in the group and they stay at an abandoned apartment until they are kicked out when the original owners surface after the war. One of ...more
Alice
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I kept thinking of Kanishk Tharoor's distinction between a short story and a novel ("...a short story opens doors to a world outside sometimes, whereas a novel brings you into a home") as I read Anne Raeff's lyrical novel, Winter Kept Us Home. Raeff is an award winning short story writer who opens windows into Ulli, Isaac, and Leo's lives from WWII and postwar Berlin and Arizona, to years in NYC and LA, and then to a hotel in Morocco. Pieces of each character, mostly together but sometimes apart ...more
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