Author(s): Thomas Harding
"A passionate memoir." (Neil MacGregor). "A superb portrait of twentieth century Germany seen through the prism of a house which was lived in, and lost, by five different families. A remarkable book." (Tom Holland). "Personal and panoramic, heart-wrenching yet uplifting, this is history at its most alive." ( A.D. Miller). In the spring of 1993, Thomas Harding travelled to Berlin with his grandmother to visit a small house by a lake. It was her 'soul place', she said - a sanctuary she had been forced to leave when the Nazis swept to power. The trip was a chance to see the house one last time, to remember it as it was. But the house had changed. Twenty years later Thomas returned to Berlin. The house now stood empty, derelict, soon to be demolished. A concrete footpath cut through the garden, marking where the Berlin Wall had stood for nearly three decades. Elsewhere were signs of what the house had once been - blue tiles showing behind wallpaper, photographs fallen between floorboards, flagstones covered in dirt. Evidence of five families who had made the house their home over a tumultuous century.
The House by the Lake is a ground breaking work of history, revealing the story of Germany through the inhabitants of one small wooden building: a nobleman farmer, a prosperous Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, a widow and her children, a Stasi informant. Moving from the late nineteenth century to the present day, from the devastation of two world wars to the dividing and reuniting of a nation, it is a story of domestic joy and contentment, of terrible grief and tragedy, and of a hatred handed down through the generations. It is the long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of Hanns and Rudolf.
A personal and panoramic new history of Germany in the twentieth century by the author of Hanns and Rudolf
"A passionate memoir about Germany." -- Neil MacGregor, author of A History of the World in 100 Objects and Germany: Memories of a Nation "A superb portrait of twentieth century Germany seen through the prism of a house which was lived in, and lost, by five different families. A remarkable book." -- Tom Holland "In The House by the Lake, the simple villa loved and lost by Thomas Harding's family magically becomes the setting for the great clashes of the twentieth century, and for a technicolour cast - victims, villains and ordinary compromisers - struggling not to be crushed by them. Personal and panoramic, heart-wrenching yet uplifting, this is history at its most alive." -- A. D. Miller, bestselling author of Snowdrops and The Faithful Couple "A superb work of social history, told with tremendous narrative verve." -- Ian Critchley Sunday Times "Diamond brilliant... the history of modern Germany as seen through the windows of the wooden house beside the lake. This is an extraordinary book." -- John Lewis-Stempel Sunday Express "Thomas Harding again pulls off the admirable feat of showing us anew the history of German's troubled twentieth century by focusing on a single story. With the narrative drive of a great novelist and the meticulous research of a great historian, Harding has crafted a moving, instructive and important book." -- Dan Brotzel The Herald "This is far more than a family memoir: by tracing the lives of the different families who lived there, Harding sheds light on the German 20th century, a tale of war, spies, murder and political, social and racial division ... His account of the house is a superb work of social history, told with tremendous narrative verve." Sunday Times "It would be hard to write an original and moving account of the tortured twentieth-century history of Germany. But, in The House by the Lake, Thomas Harding succeeds remarkably... a tragic and beautifully told history." -- Oliver Kamm Jewish Chronicle "This revelatory and compelling book is a clear must-read for anyone interested in German history during the past tumultuous century. The House By The Lake is a deeply moving story of endurance - of place as well as people. It is also uplifting as we learn of how the crumbling wreck of the house is restored to a haven of reconciliation and peace for the community and visitors to enjoy, and to heed its history which has been so brilliantly exposed." -- Lyn Smith, author of Forgotten Voices "This emblem of tyranny [the Berlin Wall] was just another fact of life for those living in its shadow. And that is, perhaps, the most important lesson of Harding's book. History, which we learn about as a series of ideological abstractions, is lived concretely. This is why an ordinary house can serve so effectively as a symbol of the German experience." -- Adam Kirsch New Statesman "A gentle but rewarding book, carefully tuned into the marginal voices recorded in the history of one small house by a lake... often poignant, sometimes heartening, and never other than intimate." -- Clare Mulley Spectator "A fascinating window on a tumultuous period." -- Jamie Waters Financial Times "Impressive... a deft history." -- Marcus Tanner Independent "With the narrative drive of a great novelist and the meticulous research of a great historian, Harding has crafted a moving, instructive and very important book." Irish Examiner "It would be hard to write an original and moving account of the tortured 20th-century history of Germany. But in The House by the Lake, Thomas Harding succeeds remarkably ... It is a fitting and moving epitaph on a tragic and beautifully told history." Jewish Chronicle
Thomas Harding is a journalist who has written for the Sunday Times, Financial Times and the Guardian, among other publications. He co-founded a television station in Oxford, and for many years was an award-winning publisher of a newspaper in West Virginia. He lives in Hampshire, England.