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.