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Amid the chaos of civilians fleeing West in a provincial German railway station in 1945 Helene has brought her seven-year-old son. Having survived with him through the horrors and deprivations of the war years, she abandons him on the station platform and never returns.Many years earlier, Helene and her sister Marthas childhood in rural Germany is abruptly ended by the outbreak of the First World War. Her father, sent to the eastern front, comes home only to die. Their Jewish mother withdraws from the hostility of her surroundings into a state of mental confusion.Helene calls the condition blindness of the heart, and fears the growing coldness of her mother, who hardly seems to notice her daughters any more. In the early 1920s, after their fathers death, she and Martha move to Berlin. Helene falls in love with Carl, but when he dies just before their engagement, life becomes meaningless for her and she takes refuge in her work as a nurse. At a party she meets Wilhelm, an ambitious civil engineer who wants to build motorways for the Reich and to make Helene his wife. Their marriage, which soon proves disastrous, takes Helene to Stettin, where her son is born. She finds the love and closeness demanded by the little boy more than she can provide, and soon she cannot shake off the idea of simply disappearing. Finally she comes to a shocking decision.The Blind Side of the Heart tells of two World Wars, of hope, loneliness and love, and of a life lived in terrible times. It is a great family novel, a powerful portrayal of an era, and the story of a fascinating woman.
Julia Franck was born in Berlin in 1970. She studied the anthropology of Native Americans, philosophy, and German language and literature at the Free University of Berlin. The Blind Side of the Heart won the German Book Prize, Germanys most prestigious literary award. She lives in Berlin.