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Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland

imagesIt’s 1942 and at a critical juncture in this biographical work, the author’s mother, an 18-year old German Jew from Frieberg, leaves Marseille by ship for Cuba.  Her French Catholic lover rows after her until she disappears.  It’s an image that’s easily trivialized; we have seen it in countless movies.  How the characters got to that position and what happens in their future lives forms the rich tapestry of this refugee biography. The author, Leslie Maitland, is a former award winning investigative reporter for the New York Times, and she turns those research and investigation skills towards her own family history, especially that of her mother.  Crossing the Borders of Time is both detailed and riveting.  You gain a real sense of not only the horror of those times, but the ambivalence that was also shown towards the Jewish community.  There is much insight into life in pre-war Germany and in occupied France.  The interlude in Cuba is also vividly drawn giving you a sense of all the influences that informed the adult Janine Maitland’s eventual life in New York.  Highly recommended.

Amy P.

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