What We’re Reading

by Eddie Jeffrey

The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman

Andrzej Szczypiorski’s The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman centers around Irma Seidenman, a young Jewish widow living in Nazi-occupied Warsaw in 1943, who lives in constant fear of being discovered: She has blond hair and blue eyes. Passing means life and avoiding what certainly would be a death sentence if she were found out. As if the subject matter were not interesting enough, Szczypiorski’s method for revealing the story is nothing short of genius. He somehow manages to pull off a point of view that is simultaneously microscopic and universal. I found reading The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman a breathtaking, sometimes dizzying, always astounding and miraculous affair. Szczypiorski was quite an interesting figure himself. He participated in the Warsaw Uprising and was subsequently condemned to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he survived until the camp was liberated in 1945. He passed away in May 2000 at the age of 72.



A Month in the Country

J.L. Carr’s A Month in the Country, it seems, was designed to be read during the course of a comfortably long afternoon with a couple pots of heady tea close to hand. There are no chapter breaks, just a title page and then:

"This was enemy country so I wasn't too careful where I put my boots."

From there the events fall one upon the other over a seemingly quiet summer in the north of England in the wake of the Great War with our narrator Tom Birkin uneasily discovering the answer to a question he sees written in the face of Moon, another escapee like himself:

"What befell you Over There to give you that God-awful twitch? Are you here to try to crawl back into the skin you had before they pushed you through the mincer?"

A Month in the Country is a story that well deserves the wide readership of that other book about the aftermath of the Great War, The Sun Also Rises.