Love affairs and deaths, war and peace, the daily grind and New Year's Eve. Arno Geiger tells us the story of three couples from one family, whose private chaos mirrors the larger political one - a moving portrayal of twentieth century life.
He had never wondered what people meant when they said that the dead live on. But now Philipp Erlach has inherited his grandmother's old house in a suburb of Vienna and his family's past, which he definitely wanted nothing to do with, is breathing down his neck.
Arno Geiger manages to tell the story as if every day of the past was our present. Alma and Richard have just had baby Ingrid in 1938, when the Germans march into Vienna. Richard's career is over. In 1945, fifteen year old Peter wanders through the bombed streets with the last of the Hitler Youth in a hopeless effort to protect the town from the Russians. Peace promises to bring happier days, but in the post-war years Richard disowns Ingrid when she decides that she wants to start a family with Peter, a no-hoper. The house is emptying. But when Philipp gives the old house a thorough clean-out at the start of the new millennium, the dead are all too present again.
Three generations in a family make seventy years of history. Arno Geiger has succeeded in bringing a sad and comic century to life through old and young, through his failed inventors and difficult daughters, his ministers and meteorologists.