The Dower House

Written by Malcolm MacDonald
Review by Ann Chamberlin

After being liberated from a concentration camp, German sculptor Felix Breit travels to England with only a crumpled visiting card given to him by an English soldier, Adam Wilson. Felix finds Wilson, now an architect involved in the rebuilding of London, and Wilson invites Felix to join a communal living community in an old dower house in Hertfordshire. With no other plan for rebuilding his life, Felix moves to the dower house and soon gets caught up in the lives of those living there including several architects, a French chef, and a Swedish Nazi. Felix gets on with everyone, but personal dramas rock the little community of eight families. However, when Felix meets Faith, an art book publisher, his own personal drama begins to unfold. Faith introduces Felix to Angela, a former Nazi interred for disloyalty to the party. Felix begins to fall for Angela, but she has secret information about the Vernichtung that involves his family. Angela’s revelations and a packet of letters from an aunt he thought was dead will challenge everything Felix thought he knew about his family.

This was an interesting read. I love Malcolm MacDonald’s witty British dialogue and his commentary on post-war English society from the mouths of his non-English characters. As an American whose only knowledge of this period comes from Julia Child’s memoir, I especially enjoyed learning more about England and Germany in the early years after World War II. The Dower House would make a great Masterpiece Theater adaptation because its characters are so compelling and the setting is so rich.