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Kurt Altman, a young man living in New York, suffers an attack of amenesia. Paranoid and convinced of an immiment attack on Penn Station, he jumps on a plane and heads South, to Tennessee, uncertain of why he is drawn there. On the plane he meets Hannah Brown, a business psychologist and daughter of an immigrant German Jewish family. He eventually confesses to not knowing who he is or where he has come from or what he is running away from. The strong attraction between the two draws them together and Hannah becomes a still point in Kurt’s confused present. Kurt finds himself drawn to Dresden, Tennessee and a community of German emigrants. He meets a woman who knew his mother and is able to begin colouring in the picture of his past. Soon we are jolted back to the bombing of Dresden and Kurt’s mother’s harrowing escape.
Can memories be passed to children from parents? Could Kurt be experiencing his mother’s trauma?
Carolyn Slaughter’s new novel is a brilliant dissection of memory, family trauma and the way that a parent’s past can be passed on to another generation. It is a moving, enlightening novel which moves to a compelling climax as Kurt tracks down his old life and finds the reason for his memory loss – and perhaps the chance to be free of the past forever.
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