Book Club met over Zoom for their April meeting to discuss their latest read, Forty Autumns by Nina Willner. Jane chose the book and wrote the following report.
The book recounts the history of three generations of Nina Willner’s family separated by forty years of Soviet rule and reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Shortly after the Second World War, as the Soviets took control of the Eastern part of Germany, Hanna, a teacher’s daughter, escaped with nothing more than a small suitcase and the clothes on her back. As she built a new life in the West her family (mother, father and eight siblings) remained in the East. The building of the Berlin Wall severed all hope of any future reunion. Hanna fell in love and moved to America. She had a daughter Nina who grew up to become the first female US intelligence officer to lead sensitive intelligence collection operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. At the same time Nina’s cousin Cordula, was training to become a member of the East German Olympic cycling team. Though separated by a only a few miles , Nina and her relatives lead very different lives. Once the Berlin Wall came down and the families were reunited, and Nina discovered the extraordinary story. In Forty Autumns she vividly brings to life many accounts of courage and survival, set against the backdrop of four decades that divided a nation and the world.
All members enjoyed the book especially how the resilience of the mother and the family were portrayed, plus the history and the way it was written. It was given an average of 9.