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Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

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.

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A Review by Evelyn Konrad

I want to write a review about Irene Wittig’s superb novel, with its humane, touching and totally authentic view of Vienna in the Thirties and Vienna after WWII. This novel is such a page-turner, that I stayed up until 4 a.m. to read and was only sorry, despite its emotionally satisfying ending, that the book was finished. I cannot imagine why this book has not been a NY Times Best Seller. The voices, both of the Viennese Jews, Viennese Nazis and handful of decent Viennese Christians, as well as the American persons are all so authentic and vividly alive that one and all of readers would both learn what they did not know before, confirm what they had known from personal, intense and painful experience, and feel throroughly grateful to this fine, honest author for having brought this important book to us. READ IT IMMEDIATELY!

A Review by Paul Paolicelli, author of Dances With Luigi and Under the Southern Sun.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve been friends with the author and her husband since Wayne and I were in the army together. It would be impossible for me to approach this book and its contents without confessing to an innate and long-held hope for this book to do well. I watched over the years as this book developed and been a cheerleader. That being said……)

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.

A Review by Helmuth Feuerriegela Most Impressive Book Spanning Nearly 30 Years of History and Fiction

A wonderful book, spanning history and the characters’ lives over nearly 30 years, on different continents, beginning with a focus on Austrian-German pre-WW II time and the situation of Jewish people in Vienna.

The rushing development of Nazi ‚rule‘ in Vienna towards the „Anschluss“ frightening to read, an American train accident – lethal for one of the main characters – leaving the reader as shocked as the fate of others due to Nazi terror.

Well-chosen metaphors and similes, many humorous lines that make the reader smile, the description of a post-war Atlantic crossing to Europe on the majestic SS America also carrying a future president show aspects of the author’s literary craft.

A Christmas night at a Vienna hospital projects a global thought:
“All around anxious parents, homesick soldiers, exhausted doctors and nurses held onto the children as their hope for the future.“ – A thought that is taken up again in the final toast line of this most impressive book.

The reader can hardly stop following the different threads of the characters’ actions until the most important ones are „safe“ in their new future lives after much hardship. – A great novel presenting history and fiction that must be very close to the real life of those days past.

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