Translated from the German by Anne Stokes
All her life Vera has felt like a stranger in the old and drafty half-timbered farmhouse she arrived at as a five-year-old refugee from East Prussia in 1945, and yet she can’t seem to let it go. Sixty years later, her niece Anne suddenly shows up at her door with her small son. Anne has fled the trendy Hamburg, Germany neighborhood she never fit into after her relationship imploded. Vera and Anne are strangers to each other but have much more in common than they think. As the two strong-willed and very different women share the great old house, they find what they have never thought to search for: a family.
Told in skillfully crafted alternating points of view and a nonlinear story-line, Dörte Hansen’s internationally bestselling debut novel This House is Mine showcases her impressive talent for characterization and dialogue in an exceptional book that combines emotional depth and humor. The author’s sparse language and sometimes oblique references make for a deeply immersive reading experience, and the characters will resonate long after the last page has been turned.
About the author
Dörte Hansen was born in Husum in northern Germany. She studied languages and completed a Ph.D. in linguistics. She then turned to journalism, spent several years working as a radio editor, and is now an author for radio and print. This House Is Mine is her first novel.
In her debut novel Dörte Hansen tells the story of two very different women: on the one hand there is Vera. She arrived in the “Altes Land” – region near Hamburg in 1945 as a refugee child and still feels like a foreigner. On the other hand there is her niece Anne, who flees the hip lifestyle of Hamburg and her unfaithful husband. Accompanied by her son Leon, she decides to move in with her nearly unknown aunt in the old farmhouse. With dry humour and a keen eye, the author describes two loners who finally find what they have never looked for: a family and a sense for what home and belonging means.
The five-year-old Vera fled from East Prussia to a farm in the outskirts of Hamburg with her mother. All her life she feels strange in the big farmhouse, until her niece Anne, with her little son, stands at the door, escaping the life of Hamburg and her husband, who loves another woman. Vera and Anne are strangers and yet feel similar. Slowly, family structures emerge and the two women learn that they can rely on each other. An unusual book, full of emotional depth and humor.
Two determined and very different women share and renovate their heritage, an old farmhouse in the German countryside and this heals their emotional wounds. Their life and characters as well as the difference between a modern city life and the lifestyle in the countryside are told with emotional depth and humour.