Stumbling Stones

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Historical fiction novel Stumbling Stones by Bonnie Suchman depicts the story of Alice Heppenheimer, an entrepreneurial woman living in 1930s Germany. To set the stage, the reader is given a little background on Alice. With a love of fashion and design, she has dreams of starting her own fashion business. Somehow convincing her conservative parents to allow her to attend Nuremberg Arts and Crafts school, Alice has gained invaluable knowledge on perfecting her craft, despite the misogyny and double standards taking place in her period. This is a huge accomplishment for Alice, and even more so that upon graduating she has been offered an apprenticeship! Finally beginning to make her visions into reality, alongside her best friend Erna and husband Ludwig, Alice feels supported, loved, and like she is capable of achieving all of her ambitions.

The story progresses, following the journey of Alice’s fashion career. However, as the timeline continues the reader begins to note an alarming trend – the recurring pattern of hostility towards Alice and her friends for being Jewish. At first, Alice is convinced it is because they reside in Nuremberg, a town with a long anti-Semitic history. But as time progresses, the severity of actions increases, making Alice fearful for her safety. Her husband, Ludwig, a strong ally of the Central Association (a group founded on protecting the rights of German Jews before their emancipation in 1871), adamantly speaks to her about politics, the threat of Nazism, and the association’s meetings on current escalations in Germany. Although Alice tries to be supportive of her husband’s antics, at first, she does not believe that things will become as bad as Ludwig claims. However, as the reader knows, Germany is very much becoming an unsafe place, in fact so much so, that Alice now must try to escape before it is too late.

All in all, I thought Alice’s story was remarkable. Suchman showed wonderfully the probable thoughts and feelings of a Jewish person navigating Nazi Germany. She clearly knows her history, showing a perfect timeline of events and inserting the just right number of facts for the story to move forward. Plot-wise, Suchman superbly executed a book I would love to read. However, one thing Suchman could improve on was the overall flow of her writing. I found this narrative was heavily laden with detail in some parts and sparse in others. Since Suchman writes from a third-person point of view, it is crucial she perfects her dialogue in a way where the reader still feels immersed in a fiction novel, not simply reading a biography or report on a character.

Overall, this book may have some further work to be done, but has the potential for an excellent historical fiction novel!

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Author Bonnie Suchman
Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 281 pages
Publisher Black Rose Writing
Publish Date 09-May-2024
ISBN 9781685134105 Buy this Book
Issue April 2024
Category Historical Fiction


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