Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recommended read: Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story Rediscovered

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler by Trudi Kanter
Find it in the catalog!

We hear it, coming from the end of the street. Closer, closer. Each step at the same split second. Each step the same length, loud, powerful, terrifying. We are like tiny ants whose nest has been disturbed, running in all directions, trying to find a hole, a blade of grass, somewhere--anywhere--to hide.
Originally self-published in 1984, Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler is the memoir of Austrian hat designer Trudi Kanter, who escaped from Austria after the invasion and occupation of the Nazis. A successful owner of a hat business in Vienna, Ms. Kanter witnessed the changes in her beloved city  after the Nazis took over power. She knew she had to get herself and her parents out of Austria, and persevered to see their safety assured.

A great majority of Trudi Kanter's memories are written in the present tense, as if she is re-experiencing events and conversations. I love her use of prose. She vividly describes people and scenes in a very succinct way, such as this excerpt about her second husband Walter, when they were still dating:
His hand holds mine under the table, reaches for my knee. Summer breeze. The smell of wood, of pines, moss, living and dying. I like his choice of wine and food, the way he makes the waiters dance around us. The way he handles the night and me in the car. In the twilight his eyes are velvet purple.
While reading Ms. Kanter's recollections we are able to witness her love of Vienna, her awe of traveling through Paris checking out the latest hat designs and fashions, her terror of running out of time to live and becoming trapped in Austria, and finally her adjustment to living and starting over in London.

After doing the nearly impossible of procuring a visa for herself after the Austrian borders closed, Ms. Kanter then went about getting one for Walter, and later, for both her parents. I was amazed at the strength of this woman, and I recommend this book if you enjoy reading about history and would like to hear a unique perspective on World War II.