Ulli is a young woman, half English and half German, squatting in a dismal, empty Berlin apartment one year after the war has ended. She’s scraping together a living as an interpreter between Berlin-based GIs and the wide-eyed local girls eager to meet them. One night Ulli meets two American soldiers: Leo, handsome and ambitious and desperate to escape his small-town upbringing, and intellectual, asthmatic Isaac, whose refugee parents had fled Russia and then Paris for New York.
Winter Kept Us Warm follows Ulli, Leo, and Isaac through the next six decades of their lives—from Berlin to postwar Manhattan, 1960s Los Angeles, and Morocco. A marriage, two children, and yet only one parent—at the core of this novel is the mystery of how this came to be. Not a chronological narrative, it explores the dark corners and lantern slides of these characters’ lives, revealing in pieces and fragments what became of their long-ago love triangle set against the brutality of postwar living.
Winter Kept Us Warm is an evocative story of family, strained by the cruelty of war and its generational repercussions; a novel of the heart, filled to the brim with unforgettable characters stitching together the deep threads of love, friendship, loyalty, and of course, loss.
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“Raeff writes with vivid assurance about Berlin, America, and Morocco, about men and women, about love and work. As the boundaries between characters shift, as past and present converge, Winter Kept Us Warm casts a dazzling spell. A wonderful novel.”
Margot Livesey, author of Mercury and Criminals
“Richly depicting emotional interiority of its characters, Raeff’s novel reveals how the devastating effects of war and hidden secrets can impact lives across decades.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Raeff’s meditative novel effectively conveys the enduring trauma of war, the conflicting desires for stability and escape, and the need to connect.”
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About Anne Raeff
Anne Raeff’s stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica, among other places. Her short story collection The Jungle around Us won the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. It was also a finalist for the California Book Award and on The San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Best Books of 2017 list. Raeff is proud to be a high school teacher and works primarily with recent immigrants. She too is a child of immigrants and much of her writing draws on her family’s history as refugees from war and the Holocaust. She lives in San Francisco with her wife and two cats.
About Suzanne Toren
Suzanne Toren, award-winning narrator, has over thirty years of experience in narration. She was named a “Golden Voice” by AudioFile magazine in 2019. She has won the American Foundation for the Blind’s Scourby Award for Narrator of the Year, AudioFile magazine named her the 2009 Best Voice in Nonfiction & Culture, and she is the recipient of multiple Earphones Awards. She performs on and off Broadway and in regional theaters and has appeared on Law & Order and in various soap operas.