Page 103 - PB Cat 1999-2021
P. 103

 The Exiles Return
The Exiles Return is set in Occupied Vienna in 1954–5. It describes five people: a young American girl, a Greek businessman, his young lover Prince ‘Bimbo’, his sister Princess Nina, and Professor Kuno Adler.They all grew up there before the war and have come back to see if they can re-establish the life they have lost.The novel’s main character, Adler, is Jewish and fled Vienna after the Anschluss (the events of March 1938 when Hitler’s troops marched into Austria). He is returning from New York to try and take up his old life as a research scientist; and we realise through his confrontation with officialdom, and through his love affair with Princess Nina, that a refugee who goes back has a very difficult time of it.
Elisabeth de Waal (1899-1991) was brought up in the Palais Ephrussi (so beautifully evoked by her grandson Edmund de Waal in his bestselling The Hare with Amber Eyes) and each of the exiles highlights an aspect of the author herself. She did not return to Vienna: having arrived in England in 1939 and become a post-war housewife (like so many of the women in Persephone books), mostly what she did was write novels, two in German and three in English. The Exiles Return is the first to be published.
A 1953 textile by Jacqueline Groag for David Whitehead © private collection
‘Side Street in Vienna’ 1953 © Mary Evans Picture Library
 NO 102
 328pp PERSEPHONE BOOKS ISBN 9781903155929

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