The Crooked Maid
By Dan Vyleta
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781608198092, 427pp.
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
List Price: $26.00*
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Vienna, 1948. The war is over, and as the initial phase of de-Nazification winds down, the citizens of Vienna struggle to rebuild their lives amidst the rubble.
Anna Beer returns to the city she fled nine years earlier after discovering her husband's infidelity. She has come back to find him and, perhaps, to forgive him. Traveling on the same train from Switzerland is 18-year-old Robert Seidel, a schoolboy summoned home to his stepfather's sickbed and the secrets of his family's past.
As Anna and Robert navigate an unrecognizable city, they cross paths with a war-widowed American journalist, a hunchbacked young servant girl, and a former POW whose primary purpose is to survive by any means and to forget. Meanwhile, in the shells of burned-out houses and beneath the bombed-out ruins, a ghost of a man, his head wrapped in a red scarf, battles demons from his past and hides from a future deeply uncertain for all.
In "The Crooked Maid," Dan Vyleta returns to the shadows of war-darkened Vienna, proving himself once again "a magical storyteller, master of the macabre" (David Park).
Shortlisted for the Giller Prize "Gracefully executed... Dramatic." -The New York Times Book Review "A true storyteller who is also a prose stylist." - The National Post "Conveys the sparse, foreboding mood of Poe or Dostoevsky... Vyleta masterfully weaves his characters together in the light and shadow of war-torn Vienna." - Shelf Awareness, starred review "A psychological novel . . . [It] conjures up the stifling atmosphere of shame and deception of the postwar period." —Booklist