The House by the Lake
Era(s): 20th Century
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 2015
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2016
A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
‘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 2013, Thomas Harding returned to his grandmother’s house on the outskirts of Berlin which she had been forced to leave when the Nazis swept to power. What was once her ‘soul place’ now stood empty and derelict. A concrete footpath cut through the garden, marking where the Berlin Wall had stood for nearly three decades.
In a bid to save the house from demolition, Thomas began to unearth the history of the five families who had lived there: a nobleman farmer, a prosperous Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, a widow and her children and a Stasi informant. Discovering stories of domestic joy and contentment, of terrible grief and tragedy, and of a hatred handed down through the generations, a history of twentieth century Germany and the story of a nation emerged.