The Manuscript

Written by Eva Zeller Nadia Lawrence (trans.)
Review by Carol Anne Germain

The Manuscript is a love story of two individuals with a common difficulty: they each lack the ability to communicate to each other the tragedies of war encountered by their families and selves. Zeller, however, is able to skillfully utilize alternative mechanisms to let the reader understand the commonality of their pasts through the manuscript and dialogues with other characters.

Jacob, a child during the Holocaust, was hidden in Berlin during World War II and throughout his adult life carries the emotional scars of this tragedy. In 1945, Bea’s mother was deported to Siberia and died under the cruel treatment of the Russians. Only through a long-lost manuscript, written by a woman who was with Bea’s mother, does Bea learn that her German mother was a victim. Bea and Jacob struggle with the tensions of the past and stubbornly refuse to share these experiences. Bea does not show the manuscript to Jacob, while Jacob will not recount his wartime experiences with Bea. Yet it is vital for them to share their heritage in order to find true love.