Friday, April 8, 2016
I just finished a book called HOHENSTEIN by Didi Lawson, put out by Xchyler Publishing. This was a fun journey for me, as I lived in Germany when I was young. I think my dad and mom hauled me to every castle and dorf and gasthaus they could find. My arms must have grown a foot from them dragging me at a full out sprint to catch trains, street cars, and buses. I always begged my mother for fairy stories full of princesses in castles. I remember sitting on the steps of Schonbrun and begging for my fiftieth story for the day. Always Mama had another.
Hohenstein is about one such castle. While the main character isn't a princess per se, she is a baroness and did live in the castle. It just wasn't the cotton candy floss dream we all think it would be. This castle leaked and had bits falling into ruin--perhaps like our own castles. We think of the princess wiling away her time eating bon bons and going on fox hunts and to balls. But sometimes the princess actually has to climb out on a rain-slick roof and reattach missing tiles. Sometimes she has to come up with a scheme to make money so her castle doesn't get repossessed. And sometimes the prince isn't so quick to fly to her side, though he might love her to bits.
I first enjoyed this book because I'd been there, maybe not to that exact castle, but to scores like it. I knew the landscape, had climbed the mountains, hiked the trails, and tramped through the Black Forest. I read the entire thing in a German accent. I miss the quality of light there. It's completely different from the blazing sun of my home. I miss the secret places we found, and the fields and fields of wild flowers. I miss the cow bells and the church bells and the Weinerschnitzel and the Brotchen. I miss the age of the forest and of the castle walls. When I lived there, I lived in a 600 year old apartment house. Age. And all of that came through in the book.
I also liked it because the main character, Marie-Louise, is stronger than she ever thought possible, which she found out when she finally emerged from the pressure cooker of life. She found out she was strong, resourceful, loyal, elegant, cultured but not snobbish, and capable of loving and being loved.
And I liked that the characters didn't hop immediately into bed after a single steamy kiss. Sometimes we have to wait for the happy ending, making it all the sweeter.
There were times when it felt like we were out for a leisurely Sunday stroll and I wanted a just a little more excitement, especially at the beginning. For that reason, I give HOHENSTEIN a lovely 4 1/2 out of 5 castle towers.
You can purchase HOHENSTEIN at Amazon or find Didi at Xchyler. It's well worth the money.