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Reaching for the Stars

Reaching For The Stars, by Nora Wain. Little, Brown, and Com­pany, Boston.

This is not a novel, as the title would perhaps lead you into sur­mising. It is more like a travel­ogue than a novel, but it isn’t ex­actly that either. The author’s husband went to Germany in 1934 to study music and she accompan­ied him to make a home for him there for four years. In the mean­time she visited for days and some­times weeks at a time with differ­ent sorts of people in order to learn to know the German people, to become acquainted with their cus­toms and work, and to find out what the people actually thought about Hitler and about the National Socialist Party. She spent the Christmas holidays with a rather wealthy family, and the weeks of the grape harvest in the country. Later she visited a forester’s fam­ily. By living with these German families and learning to love them, she was able to bring into her book a very personal touch which is lack­ing in so many books of this kind. The author writes lucidly, with an attractive style, which makes the book very easy reading.

A false idealism becomes ap­parent, however, as one reads far­ther into the book. The author was brought up as a Quaker in Pennsyl­vania, and this influences her writ­ing. Especially in the closing chap­ters of the book, when she and her husband visit in Austria and later when she writes about the destruc­tion of Czechoslovakia, this be­comes more evident. She believes that someday humanity will save itself by erasing the barriers of “nationalism which have so cor­rupted society”, not taking into account the corruption of humanity and God’s purpose with humanity.

The value for us in reading the book is that it gives a fairly clear and honest description of condi­tions in Germany under the Nazi rule. The author gives us both sides of the story.