“A Time to Forget In East Berlin” is the second book in an interconnected trilogy. The first installment is the well-acclaimed “A Time to Love in Tehran” and the upcoming third book is “A Time to Remember in Moscow.”
“The world shares the same sun,’ […] ‘The same moon, the same stars, even the same clouds.’[…] ‘But why can’t we share the same freedoms?” (p.36)
At the height of the Cold War, and with Germany divided in two, American John Lockwood tries to find solace from his tumultuous past in the love of Antonina, also known as Nina, a young woman whose biggest dream is freedom. “A Time to Forget in East Berlin” by CG FEWSTON describes John and Nina’s life on the oppressive side of the Berlin Wall, their dreams and fears, their shortcomings, the constant threat of the Stasi, their love, their thoughts on the world in which they find themselves and on the luck that life’s lottery allotted them. Is it truly possible to run from our past? To reinvent ourselves?
The author’s prose is outstanding in its almost lyrical beauty. Furthermore, her style, which highlights the importance of the mundane little actions that make up our lives, reminded me of the work of Milan Kundera. A lot of the scenes in this book are common, everyday events at that time and place, but are described exquisitely. This is, unfortunately, a double-edged sword. Readers who don’t enjoy this style might have the impression that nothing happens in this book, or that the plot seems to drag.
I want to applaud the depiction of a realistic love story. Both John and Nina are flawed and struggling with being a couple amid the fear and oppression that transpired, and their love is not a fairy-tale-like romance but a love made up of little pieces of everyday occurrences. I think stories like this are much more meaningful, relatable, and endearing than ideal Hollywood romances.
On the downside, this is not a book that can be fully enjoyed as a standalone. It’s the second installment of a series and the whole plot is almost undecipherable if one is not familiar with John’s backstory and motives. One of the core themes of the book, as the title states, is memory and our need to find respite in oblivion. But I never fully understood what John was running from because I didn’t read the previous installment. Another complication that the reader faces is the proliferation of German phrases in the story. For some of them, we are given a translation, but not for most. Of course, that doesn’t mean one can’t understand the book or grasp a vague meaning from the context, but the reader loses nuances that I’m sure would heighten the reading experience. My final complication was that one needs a deep understanding of the historical context to fully appreciate the book. I consider myself fairly educated, and history is one of my favorite topics, but I didn’t get jokes and comments that are too specific to the time. On this note, I do want to applaud the immense amount of historical research that building such a world must’ve required.
I rate “A Time to Forget in East Berlin” by CG FEWSTON 4 out of 5 stars because of the beautiful prose and meaningful themes. Unfortunately, the lack of some information that makes the story hard to decipher prevents me from giving it a perfect rating.
History connoisseurs will have a delightful time with this novel. John and Nina’s reflections make this novel ideal for readers who like philosophy, politics, and sociology. Finally, anyone who revels in the beauty of the written word could enjoy this novel. I don’t recommend this book for people who lack the patience for slow plots. Most importantly, I advise reading the previous installment first.
AF, 25 March 2022
- Title: A Time to Forget in East Berlin
- Author: CG FEWSTON
- Genre: Fiction
- Theme: Espionage, Suspense
- Publication Date: 4 January 2022
- ISBN or ASIN: B091XZV1D3
- Number of Words: 68,000
- Minimum Audience Age: 15
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 2
- Religious themes: 1
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 2
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 2
- Other adult themes: 2
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 2 stars
- Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Know more about CG FEWSTON via https://thechrysalisbrewproject.com/2022/01/11/meet-our-author-cg-fewston/.
Know more about “A Time to Forget in Berlin” via https://thechrysalisbrewproject.com/2022/01/11/featured-book-a-time-to-forget-in-east-berlin-by-cg-fewston/.