A standout among the many novels set in this world-changing era.Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Wittig’s decades-spanning historical novel set mostly in Vienna takes us from the 1930s to the 1970s, detailing the fallout from WWII.

We start with three women—Emma Huber, Greta Bruckner, and Léonie Salzmann—who have been fast friends since grammar school. Emma’s fiance, Theo, is killed early on in an uprising in Austria, and Emma has a miscarriage and cannot bear more children. Greta marries Otto Bruckner and has a daughter, Sophie. Léonie is married to Josef, a doctor, and their daughter is the lively Valerie. By the late 1940s, only Emma is alive of the three women. For villains, we have Greta’s mother-in-law, the grasping Elsa; her sister-in-law, the vain, shallow Marion; and Marion’s husband, Friedrich, Graf von Harzburg. All of these characters are thrown into the cauldron of Hitler’s rise, the war itself, and the struggle to rebuild their world and come to terms with the evil at the root of it. Novelist Wittig has a gift for character development and for pacing. She takes her time, raising this story to the deserved level of saga. It is Emma who holds the book together, and there are many more characters than mentioned above. Friedrich is an especially fascinating piece of work. All he has in life is his aristocratic lineage (“Graf” is the equivalent of a count) and the concomitant style and manners. And the Bruckners have money, so it is the ultimate marriage of convenience. He does great damage, not so much because he is immoral but because he is amoral, morally lazy—as he would be the first to admit. The story plumbs deep sadness. At one point, Emma wonders, “Didn’t God ever have enough of death?” There are saving graces, too, including a young British army officer and a kind doctor.

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

All That Lingers captures Viennese history from 1934 through World War II and beyond, and is recommended reading for those who enjoy Jewish and World War II historical fiction and experiences captured from different lives and viewpoints.

Irene Wittig’s family memories of displacement during the war are one of the facets that makes this story compellingly realistic. The juxtaposition of personal experience and political disaster is nicely narrated from the start, and is one of the themes that flows through the story line as each of three characters builds a different life from what is handed to him or her from the outside world: “Unaware that trouble was only days away, Emma was happier than she’d ever been. Once she might have described the early morning emptiness of their street as gloomy. Now she delighted in the dawn dancing silently on the cobblestones. The howling winter wind at the window would have frightened her. Now she greeted its icy arms around her and laughed. Even the scent of steaming bleach filling their small apartment every morning was comforting in its familiarity.”

From the initial signs of trouble in spreading political violence and social unrest that changes the family’s world, to individuals caught up in fighting that leads them from a world of comfort to struggling for survival on different levels, Wittig’s story captures the Nazi occupation and its aftermath. It cultivates an astute eye in showing how everyday people and families make choices and survive their consequences.

The characters, their motivations, and their impulses are well developed and designed to draw readers in, from Emma’s initial delight with her life and comfort to the unraveling of all that is familiar among family and friends. There is a wide cast of characters, both main and supporting. This lends diverse perspectives and experiences into the mix, to explore Viennese society and culture on many different levels.

How do three friends and their families survive unthinkable adversity? How do they reassemble the pieces of their world after war ends? As neighbors and friends transform to become something alien and feared; now, more than ever, Americans will readily find much to recognize in this story of the past. There are also many cautions to absorb about choices and their lasting ramifications as they impact not just families, but future political and social structures.

The attention to detail and strong psychological insights makes All That Lingers persuasive reading even for those who may have relatively little familiarity with Viennese culture or history. The plot provides the historical backdrop necessary to bring those experiences to life, and is highly recommended for readers of Jewish experience, World War II history, and family survival stories.

Charlotte Walker, A Lovereading Ambassador,

All That Lingers is a thought-provoking family drama set in WWII Vienna. Although Emma is the main character, the narrative also focuses on Sophie and Friedrich. I enjoyed getting to know Emma and felt her happiness and heartbreak as I read her story.

I liked that this book offered different perspectives on life in wartime Austria: the threat, worry and uncertainty experienced by Emma and Leonie in comparison to the comfort of Friedrich and his wife. I was immersed in the narrative and found this contrast between Friedrich’s privilege and Emma and Leonie’s struggles stark but engrossing. 

This book offers a touching and powerful story to enjoy, while posing moral questions that can be reflected on long after the final page. I find that fiction centred around WWII is particularly affecting given the global political stance at the moment. It feels as though nationalist messaging is creeping back into the foreground (Trump, Brexit to name the most obvious two) and I think that narratives like All That Lingers are more vital now than they’ve ever been, by posing moral questions that may no longer be far fetched. I feel that the contrast in the characters’ lives I mentioned earlier could also double as a social commentary. The concept that the politically powerful, even when they find themselves on the wrong side of history, can still remain in relative privilege and comfort, while a layperson (Emma in this instance) feels the full force of the turmoil of political upheaval is poignant. 

I didn’t know much about WWII Vienna before I read this book and I found it fascinating to learn about as I followed the characters. This book has inspired me to find out more about Austrian history, as well as doing more reading into worldwide WWII narratives.I also really appreciated the note from the author at the end of the book. 

All That Lingers is a moving story  and I think that this would be a good recommendation for fans of Historical Fiction and WWII narratives. 

Paul Paolicelli, author of “Dances With Luigi” and “Under the Southern Sun”

This is one of the “lesser” tales of World War Two, its buildup and its aftermath. Many of us have tried to tell those stories, myself included, the kinds of tales that deal with the effects of the war on regular people, not the sweeping biography or history of great leaders and great battles, but rather the smaller pictures, snapshots and home movies of individuals and families.

“All That Lingers” takes the reader into Vienna in the way that only an insider to the story could tell. (Irene’s mother was from Vienna and, being half Jewish, was a refugee from that city during that dreadful war). It’s atmospheric; it’s a Vienna that no casual visitor would ever see or know. It’s a story about the incredible entanglements of several families and close friends torn apart, first by the sweeping anti-Semitism of the times and the sometimes hypocritical and always confusing politics of the Austrians before, during and after the war. It tells a tale of deceit, duplicity, death and long suffering, but more importantly, it’s ultimately a story of love and redemption. 

Ms. Wittig’s prose is disciplined and direct. And while the narrative deals with the underbelly and ugliness of the human condition, she never allows the story devolve into angry screed. On the contrary, there are exceptionally touching scenes of love and tenderness. Despite the meanness and depravity of some of the characters, I found the overall tale to be kind and understanding. Not an easy trick, given the subject.

I highly recommend this book to all.

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite – 5 Star Review

All That Lingers by Irene Wittig is a strong and powerful novel taking us on a tough journey from 1934 through the Holocaust, World War II, and ending in 1961. There are many characters that we meet along the way but the main story focuses on Emma, Leonie and Greta, lifelong friends. There is also Hannah, Hans, Magda, Marion and her husband Friedrich and their son Klaus, and Sophie. Each one plays an important role but Emma is really the main character. We travel along with Emma as she faces love, loss, heartache, and joy in Vienna, feeling the horror of what the Jews endured as they were forced to flee or be captured. The German anti-Nazi, wealthy folks had a choice to help or turn in the Jews and we share in the results of their actions. Emma spends many years in sadness, remembering the people she has lost. She also tries to help both Hannah and Sophie to right wrongs. 

All That Lingers will certainly make you cry but it will also give you a reason to smile. It was impossible not to root for Emma and hope that she would eventually find love. There were others like Marion and Friederich that I hoped, in the end, would get what they deserved. All That Lingers is not a quick or easy read and requires a great deal of concentration because of the many characters and all that is going on at once, but it certainly is a worthwhile read. If you are a history buff, this is a must-read and if you just like a good family saga, then it is also a must-read. Irene Wittig has taken a time of war and brought it to life.

Kristan Braziel, Reedsy Discovery

Books based in the WWII era are like catnip for me, because I can’t believe there isn’t more time separating us from the treacherous events that occurred. Complex stories of unexpected relationships and the painful decisions people were forced to make seems like they couldn’t possibly have happened only 75 years ago.

They should have happened centuries ago, before our world had become civilized.

This beautifully written story of three main characters and how their lives are connected is a portrait of just how uncivilized – in a global sense – we were. But it also shines a light on stories of hope and compassion and sheer survival present during that time, too.

Beginning in the mid-1930’s in Vienna, you’re introduced to Emma, young and in love, and naive to the dangers the political and social unrest swirling around posed to her and to those she loved. She’s forced to grow up quickly, having suffered great loss, and then has to hide away her grief and put on a brave face for her friends and family.

Years later, Sophie, the daughter of Emma’s childhood friend, returns to Vienna for answers to questions that haunted her entire life, the biggest one being: what happened to her father, who disappeared all those years before?

You can see the faults in a third main character, Friedrich, early on, but you wonder if his actions are malicious or simply self-preservation.

Friedrich is my favorite character, but not because he’s likeable.

I enjoyed reading about him because – as sneaky as he is – the way he takes such delight in manipulating and flustering his self-absorbed wife makes you like him and dislike him at the same time.

After years of playing his cards just so, Friedrich has reached a point that he’s no longer compelled to hold secrets that he’s been burdened with for so long.

Secrets that will connect the three lives and threaten to dismantle everything they’d come to believe.

Wittig’s characters are believable and rich with back story, and she skillfully drops in enough information that you think you know all that’s going on, and that it’s only the characters who don’t.

But she also holds back a few tiny nuggets until near the end, which was an unexpected surprise. Not where you think, “Oh, I never saw THAT coming,” but just a gentle, well-planned and well-executed tying up of loose ends.

All That Lingers is a lovely book and one I’m happy to recommend.

Evelyn Konrad

I am a dedicated reader of books, books, books, and yet, I have rarely read a novel with more authentic voices, more inevitable yet surprising actions stemming from the character of the people who inhabit this unforgettable novel about Vienna, ALL THAT LINGERS, by Irene Wittig, with its incredibly reminiscent report about thatncity in the Thirties and right to the Fifties.  So much to forget, so much to remember!

When Irene Wittig’s characters (nay, “persons”) speak in this remarkable novel, I can hear “the Graf Bobby Deutsch” which some of us spoke, and the Hitler-accented low German, and the occasional Hoch Deutsch, which all Viennese, including the intellectuals and upper middle class, avoided as much as possible.  Throughout my compulsive reading of this page-

turner, I kept hearing what we call “heimatliche Töne,” meaning the realistic, undeniable voices of people we knew, people who were part of our childhood, people who were part of our lives, people who indelibly marked our lives.

Even if you were not born in Vienna, even if you have never been in Vienna, and even if you could not find Vienna on a map of Europe if your life depended on it, you should not miss reading this book.  It is the story of personal heroism, of baseless betrayals, which, although it took place in Austria in the last century, is even now taking place in countries all over the world, because ALL THAT LINGERS is a fictionalized story about the human condition.

Judge 50, Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

You’ve chosen a particular time period and did a wonderful job bringing it to life. I was immediately caught up in the story of Emma, Sophie and Friedrich. It was such a difficult time and you really did justice to it.  I really felt what it was like living in Vienna in the ’30s, with the threat of the Nazis growing every day. You’ve created a wonderful set of characters whose lives and decisions were very compelling, complicated and interesting.


Auschwitz is outside of us, but it is all around us, in the air.
The plague has died away, but the infection still lingers
 and it would be foolish to deny it.
– Primo Levi

Irene Wittig’s new novel appeared in late 2020 which masterfully delves into Austrian (middle European) history, the story of a family fictionalized, a century of political, social, and cultural development, a document of complete disaster lasting 11 years which shook up a generation, leaving no lives of post war generations since untouched.  Irene Wittig has furnished a sizable, well structured and in top superbly written novel based on thorough studies which she has undertaken over decades on 2 continents. 

As a matter of fact, I could ask myself if there’s not one single more important event in my life than World War II. How can this be?  To find answers to this ostensibly easy, yet very intricate question, reading Irene Wittig’s new book is of great help.  This tightly structured and well written novel introduces Austria’s main social strata of prewar society by way of a handful well-shaped, iconic characters who come to live with few elegant strokes. Wittig spares no ills, names names, and employs a sparse, poetic language, spanning the years from 1934 on through WW II and leading up to war exile, return home, and conflicted reconstruction.

A movie screenplay?
Seen from a commercial point of view, the book could as well function as perfect source for an Oscar winning Hollywood screen play. Perhaps a screen writer is already waiting around the corner.  However, this is not its main objective. The list of characters and their interwoven histories unravel a truly impressive panorama – a seemingly never ending plethora of deeply interesting, well designed character studies, carried as they are by autobiographical traits inspired by real personage from Wittig’s ancestry, her own experiences, excellent psychological insights, and thorough historical research. 

On 400 plus pages we are witnesses to almost a century of middle European history, beginning before WW2, the so-called Anschluss (annexation of Austria to Germany in 1938)), the war times with its conflicted experiences, actions – or non-actions – of Jews, non-Jews, so-called Mitläufer ( those going along), early Nazis, secret resistance fighters and cowardly profiteers of the crisis, as they have shaped the trajectories of most of our Austrian ancestors. These characters sprung from each page – they seem hyper-real. While based  to large degrees on factual historical figures, they might as well be considered archetypes of our epoch as they follow the paths, live the lives, exhibit the – well observed and described – socio-cultural-political gestus of a people and culture in turmoil, overwhelmed by the eruptive motions of its times: economic, social, and political crises, revolutionary movements, insurrections, outright war, collaboration, resistance, espionage – and the deceitful returns to “normality” after 1945 as a traumatic age of reconstruction, the mourning of the few,  and acquiescence of the many – the incapacity to mourn (Alexander Mitscherlich).  

The novel’s main characters
The dramatis personae (list of characters) is extensive and suggestive of not only cinematic translation but also theatrical performance allowing a gaze through the loophole of time – into a “world of yesterday” (another kind of Stefan Zweigian Welt von Gestern of 1942.). Wittig succeeds in fictionalizing her characters into a representative cast of pre-, war, and post-war eras. Here someone writes who has lived herself through parts of these momentous times, and who knows her principle characters’ psychological, social, cultural, ideological, and political motivations. 

Beginning with the female protagonist Emma Huber, a non Jewish progressive who hides Jews from Nazi persecution – the true of heroine of the novel. While the reader is invited into an in depth observation of a good dozen of well grounded biographies, she/he most certainly tends to identify with Emma. She represents the enduring force if the novel, allowing us to get a real sense of “these dark times” (Bertolt Brecht), fending off bravely all strikes of destiny, all possible defeats, keeping a stand throughout the waves of historical political ruptures – from post WW I socio-political, civil-war like conditions between left and right wing forces, meaning Austria’s First Republic (1918-1934), through Austro fascism (1934-138), WW II (1939-1945), and post war reconstruction as well as Diaspora to the US. 

Emma would certainly be the “star” of the movie, standing out next to the second most important female protagonists, Leonie Grünbaum-Salzmann, Emma’s best friend and a persecuted Jew who she is incapable to protect from Nazi deportation and the young Sophie Bruckner who together with her mother manages to escape and finally ends up in New York immigrates to the US, refusing to return to Austria after 1945. All surviving female characters take up socially inclined occupations in the aftermath of the war – in an attempt to make the world a better place. On her post -war visit to Vienna, Sophie finds out that Leonie, her mother’s friend Leonie was killed by the Gestapo through careless and cruel reporting on her by Marion, von Harzburgs ‘s Nazi-Wife, and other war-atrocities. This chapter ends with the lines: “… thoughts of evil avenging evil again and again for centuries kept Sophie awake half the night. In the morning, exhausted, she woke to the realization that she had to do something about her future. Mourning the past was not enough.” (p-403-404).

And there’s the family line of German Aristocrat Friedrich Graf von Harzburg, not an untypically old style Habsburgian name, his Viennese wife Marion, and their niece, Sophie. While Friedrich does not sympathize with the primitive, brutal, uneducated nature of the Nazi personage, certainly his wife does – as she’s acutely aware of the many social and financial advantages political conformism affords. She’s a vain, jealous, cruel, and narcissistic character, and the one who reports on Leonie and calls in the police.  Friedrich, a weak, degenerate man – opportunistic, lazy, emotionally dependent on his wife – concedes unwillingly to the Hitler regime due to lack of alternatives – a shockingly “Austrian character”, one could say, an archetype which has lived in after the war. A man who changes opinion, ideology, and life circumstance according to political transitions – a true chameleon. He gives in to his wife’s Antisemitic desires, passions and abundant lifestyle taking pride of perverse 

Revealing more about the wide ranging trajectories and relationships of this impressive cast acquiring archetypal dimensions, would take away the thrill of reading the book. 

Why “All that lingers”?
Yes, History is man-made, yet it remains unpredictable. According to Wittig, fascism, its disastrous legacy which has shaped all of our lives until this day, its long-lasting aftermaths “linger on” in the present. That’s what we must not forget, she tells us. It’s an important lesson to remember as new populist, fundamentalist, and recently all out right wing, even Nazistic political movements rearing heads once again. Fascisms – or the forces giving rise to it – still lingers on – that is the sad and important message of the story – and a wise reminder of being on  guard to save democracy.

BRENDA on Goodreads/ NetGalley

Loved, loved this achingly beautiful book! My emotions are in a puddle. Mainly set in Austria, specifically Vienna, this WWII to the 1960s takes us through all sorts of twists and bends, joys and heartaches, pain and anguish. I love Vienna, her history and culture, food, beauty and art. But as the author says, in the fifty years following WWII, Austria remained silent. I love that the author captured this perspective so wonderfully. The descriptions are gorgeous…and I don’t mean just scenically but the psychological insights are outstanding (the before, then and after; evil begets evil…). The tragedies are many but there is always hope.

Not only do we learn about the various characters’ lives but historical information which doesn’t feel like addons but is seamlessly blended into the story (such as Nazis banning art and entertainment, Kristallnacht, confiscations). The poignant rolled carpet story is seared into my memory.

The various characters are fascinating, all with secrets and history. Some are engaging, others less so, and I really cared about the outcomes. The three main characters are Emma, Sophie and Friedrich and some secondary characters include Leonie, Greta, Marion and Hannah. We learn about their relationships, connections and lives as they navigate WWII and the effects on future generations. I appreciate that war details are not glossed over as they are important to know. Emma had been accustomed to ease but during and after the war she experiences tragedy which changes her. Sophie travels to Vienna from America to look for answers to her compelling family’s history. And what she finds is much more than she had expected. Like Austria, Friedrich stands back in the sidelines. Love the way the pieces fit together. That ending!

All Historical Fiction fans ought to bury themselves in this unputdownable book. It is THAT good.

My sincere thank you to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this remarkable book. I enjoyed it thoroughly. 

Educator Review on NetGalley

All That Lingers is a powerful tale of three friends, two Jewish and one not whose friendship  starts in pre-WWII Vienna. The author, Irene Wittig, follows their disparate paths in life as they attempt to escape the Nazis who soon forcefully occupy Austria. The characters and plot are compelling as the non-Jewish friend stays in Austria, and the other two escape to England and the US to avoid the death camps. All that Lingers is an excellent way to learn, in particular, about the role Austria played in the war and her relationship to Nazi Germany. Wittig is forthright about the recondite way that, even until now, Austrians have made excuses for their participation in the War. Her ability to write frankly about this situation and about the people who died and survived in this grisly war is admirable. I recommend this book in particular for younger (teenage) readers who can learn about WWII through the fiction of friendship, escape, and love.
All That Lingers is a powerful tale of three friends, two Jewish and one not whose friendship  starts in pre-WWII Vienna. The author, Irene Wittig, follows their disparate paths in life as they attempt to escape the Nazis who soon forcefully occupy Austria. The characters and plot are compelling as the non-Jewish friend stays in Austria, and the other two escape to England and the US to avoid the death camps. All that Lingers is an excellent way to learn, in particular, about the role Austria played in the war and her relationship to Nazi Germany. Wittig is forthright about the recondite way that, even until now, Austrians have made excuses for their participation in the War. Her ability to write frankly about this situation and about the people who died and survived in this grisly war is admirable. I recommend this book in particular for younger (teenage) readers who can learn about WWII through the fiction of friendship, escape, and love.

Ferne EK Reviewer, NetGalley

This novel is hauntingly beautiful. How can one call a novel about WWII beautiful in any way? It is beautiful due to the writing that draws the reader in and captures the friendship of three (3) young women who met in school at the age of 6 when a teacher had them line up in alphabetical order, Grünbaum, Hellmann, Huber and it seemed so simple to say, "Friends forever." 

The novel begins in Vienna in 1934, and continues to 1961 in New York. In 1934, Greta Grünbaum is now married and we meet her as Greta Bruckner, wife of newspaper journalist Otto. Léonie is now married and we meet her as Léonie Salzmann, wife of physician Josef. Emma Huber is engaged to the love of her life, Theo Berger, Socialist and activist. What could possibly interrupt their lives or even their friendship? It is a saga written of the prelude of WWII, through the darkest days of WWII in Vienna, to the aftermath. There are times of pure joy, times of celebration, times of the deepest despair, times almost unspeakable to live through let alone to remember. It is a novel of friendship and love, betrayal and deceit, secrets and lies, and most of all human resilience with the portrayal of emotions ranging the full spectrum as in life from gut-wrenching to heart-warming.

I have read many novels in the historical setting of WWII but I have never read the perspective of the war from Vienna nor did I have any educational background which made this a more enlightening read. But reading this saga of historical fiction provides more than any history class would reveal as it shares the different aspects of humanity from those who are motivated by power and greed to those that are motivated by caring and service to others. Through the friendship of three (3) women we become personally invested in their survival.

It was a mesmerizing reading experience due to the detail of the author's compelling writing. As politics are revealed, sides chosen, it becomes provocative and thought-provoking to wonder the choices one's family might have made, to wonder what your personal choices might have been. Regardless, it illuminates a difficult time in World history that one can only hope will never be repeated. It is a story I will remember. It is a story I will encourage others to read.

My sincere thanks to Irene Wittig, and BooksGoSocial for my complimentary digital copy of this title, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Sue GF. Reviewer, NetGalley

ALL THAT LINGERS by IRENE WITTIG is a heart wrenching story of what Austrians, particularly those who lived in Vienna, went through during and after the second world war.
The story revolves around Emma, Léonie and Greta, three young women who met their first day at school and have been friends ever since, and their families. The author gives us a real understanding of the characters' emotions as they undergo terrible hardship and loss. Experiencing the hatred that is unleashed, especially towards the Jews, affects Emma in particular and she puts herself in danger by looking after her Jewish friends. We see the depression and hopelessness of people who feel their country has betrayed them. There are also those who collaborate with the enemy, and, even in families, there are some who cannot be trusted.
I like to see how the characters who are still alive after the war slowly start to live and love again with hope for the future.
I recommend the novel as an excellent read.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from BooksGoSocial. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

Sydney L, Reviewer NetGalley

Set in WWII Vienna, All That Lingers brings to light yet another perspective of the perils of a world at war. Before WWII finds it way to beautiful Vienna, Emma and her friends celebrated life and were planning their futures. But as war and reality invades, things begin to fall apart, lives are lost and fear of what’s right and what’s wrong set in. As time passes, Emma questions her role in the war, did she do enough, what could she have done to protect her friends, to stop the evil. Survivors guilt and the pain of wonderful memories paralyze her until new people come into her life causing her reevaluate her post war choices.

I loved every page of this book. Some WWII paint very vivid, detailed portraits of a world at war...instantly creating emotion. Irene Wittig does that without those extremely detailed accounts. Her words are eloquent yet drip of emotion. You feel the sadness and the guilt. I was so invested in the character of Emma and loved watching her grow over the years. I’ve read stories that mention Austria and Vienna but never one that was set there so this was also a great history lesson for me as well. There are so many secrets and lies attached to war and this story shares just a few. I highly recommend reading the authors notes at the end just to give a better timeline of Austria’s involvement in the war. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Irene for the chance to read this story. It’s one that will definitely stay with me for a long time.

Gitika G, Reviewer, NetGalley

The book spans over more than four decades, 1934-1960. Austria, in 1934 was witnessing the rise of Nazism due to the growing influence of Hitler in neighbouring Germany. Anti-semitism was widespread. In 1938, after the Anschluss- the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany without even a shot being fired, Jews fled the country.

The book follows the life of Emma and her friends in Vienna. Emma was at the brink of happiness in her life. She was looking forward to a future with Theo. Then the whole world was thrown into chaos and everything was snatched away from her. Emma spent the war years confined in her house along with her mother and friend Leonie. When she lost Leonie, it broke her. After the war, she gradually picked up the pieces of her life. 
There are two other subplots of Friedrich, a poor nobleman from Germany and Sophie, Emma's best friend's daughter.

Most of my World War II fiction has been limited to Great Britain or Germany. So a story set in Austria was thought-provoking. It is slightly slow in the middle but picks up pace after the war ends. Another thing to reflect on is the effect of war on the privileged class. Did it have any effect on their lifestyle?
The character of Emma is well sketched out and is by far my favourite. She is a loyal and true friend who hides her friend Leonie, a Jew despite the constant threat of getting caught. I could feel her grief and misery. Friedrich is not bad at heart but due to his circumstances, he does what he deems right for his survival. 
It is a touching story that would tug at your heartstrings.

Ralph Peluso for Zebra PressAll That Lingers is a moving story of survival. It is a solid read for all, especially fans of historical fiction and WWII stories. Zebra rating: 5 stripes.

Reviewed by: Ralph Peluso, Literary Editor

In All That Lingers, Irene Wittig demonstrates her strong storyteller skills. This generational work set in Vienna and New York takes readers from the 1930s and pre-WWII Europe, through the war, and on into the early part of Kennedy’s America.

Irene selected the title carefully. It portends situations and people who cross in and out of life’s path, but key memories of them always remain. Emma, the main character, faces love, joys, losses, heartaches, and intense feelings of helpless horror at what Jews endured as Austria and the world changed around them. They were forced to flee, be captured, or hide, with the latter forcing anti-Nazi German supporters to either help the Jews or turn them in and face the consequences for their actions. Emma spends many years in sadness, remembering those she has lost.

All That Lingers has many unique, well-developed characters. Each is essential to understanding Emma’s initial happiness with her life and comfort, and then to the stark contrast thrust upon her by a life unraveling. The diverse perspective and experience give readers a deep look into Viennese society and culture.

The author’s attention to period detail and psychological insight provides history buffs with fuel for debate. Choices have lingering ramifications. Is it so farfetched that the politically powerful, even when on the wrong side of history, remain privileged and comfortable? While the not-so-lucky face the outcome of the turmoil and political upheaval?

Irene Wittig was born in liberated Rome to a Viennese Jewish mother and Italian father. She arrived in the U.S. via Austria and Argentina. Wittig grew up in New York, surrounded by Holocaust survivors and other displaced Europeans. “I drew from their stories and those of my family in writing this book,” she said. “Preservation of family stories is important to understanding the scars of our heritage.” This quasi-autobiographical work is chock full of characters, from warm and loving, to sinister and self-serving.

After studying in New York, Germany, and Maryland, Irene worked for the Dept. of Defense in Washington, D.C. before moving to Naples, Italy, where she lived for five years. Later, she and her husband spent six years in Switzerland. After 20 years as a ceramic painter and teacher, Irene turned to writing. She and her husband have two children and four grandchildren. They live in Arlington, Virginia.

Dianna M. Reviewer, NetGalley

Great, great book!  Ms. Wittig has created a wonderful story based on events in pre and post WWII Vienna. 

Even more interesting and alive than the time and place are the  characters; some heroic, some villainous but none you can easily dismiss from your mind. Tragedy and traumatic events shaped their lives like nothing else and I’m talking about more than the Jewish genocide, I’m referring to the evil that people do to others personally.  Fear, greed and self-centeredness caused some of the most deplorable acts. 

Although there is always a silver lining as was the case here with Emma. She lived a terrible early life, but brought so much value and love to those she took under her wing she triumphed. Thank you Net Galley and Irene Wittig.

 Ethel F, Reviewer, NetGalley

This is a novel about friendship and survival during one of the darkest times in history. We follow three friends and their families as they deal with the repercussions of anti-Semitism in Vienna, the Nazi occupation, and the search for loved ones after the war is over—and how those times impacted the next generation. A touching read, it brings life and history together. This was an emotional story, as the author captured the love and bravery of people in the midst of betrayal and atrocities “All That Lingers” brings to life the human drama of this war, something you won’t find in text books. Highly recommended.

Jennifer D, Reviewer, NetGalley

This is a novel about friendship and survival during one of the darkest times in history. We follow three friends and their families as they deal with the repercussions of anti-Semitism in Vienna, the Nazi occupation, and the search for loved ones after the war is over—and how those times impacted the next generation. A touching read, it brings life and history together. This was an emotional story, as the author captured the love and bravery of people in the midst of betrayal and atrocities  "All That Lingers" brings to life the human drama of this war, something you won't find in text books. Highly recommended.

Review by ChickLit Café

All that Lingers by Irene Wittig is a captivating, sweeping, family saga, set against the backdrop of WWII in Austria.  The incredible lives and loves of three close friends will have you glued to the pages of this powerful, mesmerizing story.  A sweeping saga of love, friendship, loss and betrayal, very highly recommended with a big five stars rating.

The story begins in Vienna, in 1934 and carries through to 1961, so this is much more than a war story.  It is a sweeping, exceptionally gripping family saga.  The story comes through the view point of Emma, a woman who sees herself as a failure and not good enough.  Others, however, see her for who she truly is – brave, fiercely loyal and loving.   Emma’s best friends are Greta and Léonie who both happen to be Jewish.  Their life before the war is full of happy occasions and all seems good.  Greta’s husband Otto, works for a newspaper, and Léonie’s husband is a doctor.  They come from respectable and well to do families.  Emma has a poorer background, and lives with her mother who takes in laundry to keep them going.  The class and religious differences don’t affect the ladies friendships.  When Hitler moves into Austria their lives are all changed forever, but their love and loyal ties will carry through the generations making this a stand out, first class novel.  As much detail that went into the good characters, also went into the bad characters. I enjoyed the black, gray and glimmers of white that appeared in the personalities of Marion and her husband Friedrich, they helped to make this an unputdownable gripping story.

Irene Wittig has written a wonderful story inspired by her relatives.  I felt the authenticity of her writing pouring through the pages, which made this an exceptional book to me.  Her pacing is spot on and flows nicely making this well-written and super easy to read.  Her characters are fully rounded and seeped with background that makes them engaging, whether good or bad people.  I cared for the characters and longed for a happy ending.  This exceptional book comes very highly recommended by Chick Lit Café.

Review by COSY BOOK CORNER blog

A really, really good piece of historical drama. And no, I’m not just saying that because the author asked me to review it

I read the email with a sense of disbelief that it had actually happened. An author – a real, proper author, who’s written a book and everything – had messaged me (me!) via my blog to say that she’d be “honoured” if I would review her historical novel. Really? Actually, seriously??

I wonder if I’ll ever get used to this. If I’ll ever be able to receive such requests calmly and rationally. To be confident in the thought that if I have any negative comments to make, these are justified even when, as now, the author has been so generous in providing a copy of his or her book free of charge. As it is, I almost felt afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy reading All That Lingers, because to criticise it in any way would be the hardest thing to do since – well, since reading my last book, Jess Kitching’s The Girl She Was Before, for much the same reasons.

So I’m delighted to say that – once again – I needn’t have worried. Even though historical fiction is not my usual genre, this is a book that I really, really enjoyed.

I should probably start however by saying what this book isn’t. If you’re looking primarily for a piece of education, it might not be for you. Because whilst the true events of the Nazi occupation of Austria are depicted, the story is told in the first person from a fairly small number of characters. Which means you don’t really get a sense of scale, or an understanding of the ‘why’ to any of what happened.

This, though, is fine. Because as a beautifully told domestic drama, it works a treat.

We are introduced to Emma, who is just your typical working-class young woman of Vienna in the 1930s. Engaged to be married, pregnant with her first child and still best friends with Greta and Leonie, whom she met at the age of six on her first day at school. But Greta and Leonie are Jewish. And the Nazi regime is about to uprise …

I can’t say too much about the story without giving away big spoilers, so I’ll reveal only that one of the women manages to escape to New York with her young daughter, Sophie. But this means that she and Emma never see each other again. Emma manages to hide the other woman in her own house for almost the whole of the war, only to face what is perhaps the worst possible outcome. When the war is officially over, and others are celebrating, Emma is left only with a feeling of emptiness at having lost everything and everyone she cared for, for which she is unable to stop blaming herself.

However, and thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. It continues until 1961, passing through another generation and showing us how Emma is slowly able to find some resilience she didn’t know she had, to realise that she hasn’t forgotten how to care for herself and others and to eventually find happiness.

We also hear some of the events told from the point of view of Friedrich. He’s not a bad man, not really. But he is a weak and selfish one. He has married into wealth and his main concern is to protect and maintain his own comfortable lifestyle. More than once he makes the easy choice, rather than the right one. His justification to himself of “what else could I have done?” is rhetorical – he knows the answer just as well as the reader does. But the consequences are long-lasting. And if anything, they actually provided me with a bit of light relief as I felt almost childishly delighted when he and his wife finally got some of what they deserved.

All That Lingers, then, manages to be heartbreaking and heartwarming, devastating yet uplifting almost all at the same time. There’ll be pages where you wish you had tissues and others where you’ll suddenly realise that there is a broad smile on your face. And Irene Wittig should take this comment as praise indeed, because there aren’t many books that can take me – a cynical middle-aged man who rarely laughs or cries at anything – through this range of emotions.

My only real criticisms of the book are that, whilst about the first half and last quarter are fantastic, it seemed to lose its way a little bit in the years immediately after the war. This time period needed to feature, because it was necessary for Sophie, who had left Vienna as a small child, to return as a young woman. But I just found the book easier to put down in these chapters than I did in the others. Plus the ending felt just a little bit hurried.

But that’s it. So it remains only for me to say thank you Irene, and congratulations. I will also post this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

My rating: ★★★★

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