A young German woman, thinking she can escape her memories of wartime Berlin, moves to London in 1954 under her new name of Charlotte Brown. The offer of a prestigious job at the National Gallery leads her to believe that she can establish a new life in a city itself emerging from the ruins of war.
With her new identity, Charlotte hopes she has left Eva Schlessinger far behind . . . but when her job brings her into contact with a ruthless set of art dealers with dubious wartime connections, she fears they can see behind her facade. Priceless masterpieces start appearing at auction, stolen from murdered Jewish families by the Nazis, and she herself is implicated. At this point, Charlotte makes a solemn promise – one that will take her a lifetime to fulfil.
Blue Skies Over Berlin is a novel about secrets and guilt in an uncertain time, balanced by friendship and enduring love – and ultimately the need to make amends for just standing by.
Blue Skies Over Berlin is a moving and thought-provoking book about guilt and who we really are from an author who is fascinated by the human condition and the challenges life can throw up. It is a must-read for fans of Howard Jacobson, Ian McEwan and William Boyd.
Blue Skies Reader Reviews
What a great book The author has captured the mood and atmosphere of post WW2 Britain. I was fascinated by the intrigues and deception of the art world and the life-like characters. The book combines an emotional journey with a gripping tale. I strongly recommend this book.Amazon Review
What A thoroughly enjoyable read. There are a rich variety of well described characters. The story mainly takes place in London, but covers several different countries over the post WW11 years, to more contemporary times. Would make a good film, I think!Amazon Review
Excellent book, couldn’t put it down. Gripping from the first page. Looking forward to more books from this new author.Amazon Review
I am a fan of John Steinberg since his first book Shimon, although Blue Skies Over Berlin is a more contemporary novel set in the period following the war with fascinating references to the life of a jewish East End immigrant family in the 1950’s and their plight in family life and commerce.
Blue Skies over Berlin is a page turning well researched novel taking you on the moving journey of a non- jewish German woman arriving in London and the twists and turns that she encounters. I recommend it!
This is an intriguing story about a German woman, Eva Schlessinger. As a young woman she takes Swiss nationality through her mother and changes her name to Charlotte Brown. Following her History of Art degree, she takes a job at the National Gallery and moves to London. The book begins as Charlotte is offered a new job by Bernard Morris, running his new Bernard Morris Gallery in Mayfair.Amazon Review
From the blurb, I had expected a mystery or thriller — but Blue Skies Over Berlin is a much slower-paced story. If you enjoy a slower burn, then this is a real gem of a book. It reminded me of Tully by Paullina Simons, which follows a woman’s life from a teenager to middle age. It feels very realistic and like you are hearing about a real person’s life.
The book follows Charlotte’s life from her 30s to 70s. I felt that this story had two distinct parts to it. The first part is when she is involved in the art gallery, the second is after she begins working as an art teacher. Characters that Charlotte meets in the first half seem to be forgotten in the second half. There are rich characters around Charlotte, but they seem to be irrelevant until very late in the book.
At the start of the book Charlotte is very naive and easily influenced by others. For example, she chooses to believe other people’s opinions of her partner and packs her bags to leave him — without even speaking to him first to find out if what she was told is true! She is also easily taken in by Susana, despite disliking her when they first met earlier in the story. However, Charlotte does begin to grow as a character. She seemed much more alive and real to me in the second part of the book.
I felt sorry for Bernard. He is a genuine, caring man who is taken advantage of by everyone around him. Even after his death, his former staff still use his influence and name to steal from Charlotte with no consequences (much like real life, I guess).
Finally, I really like John’s writing style. It is very straight-forward and to the point, which I like. The Practical Magic series by Alice Hoffman is written in a similar, no-nonsense way.