“If Elisabeth de Waal’s name sounds familiar, credit her grandson, Edmund de Waal. His acclaimed book ‘The Hare with Amber Eyes‘ (2010) chronicled the history of Elisabeth’s family, the Ephrussis, an eminent Jewish clan in Europe. As readers of the younger de Waal’s book may recall, Elisabeth (1899-1991) lived an accomplished life, but one achievement eluded her: Although she wrote five novels — two in German and three in English — not one found a publisher. Until recently.
The manuscript now published as ‘The Exiles Return‘ is set mainly in 1954-55, in the months leading up to the signing of the State Treaty, which, the novel’s brief and enigmatic prelude reminds us, ‘led to the withdrawal of the Allied Occupation forces and finally restored Austria’s independence.’ This setting may prompt some readers to view ‘The Exiles Return’ as a historical novel, but for Elisabeth, it was a fairly contemporary creation.”
Please read the rest of my review in The Washington Post.