From the vestiges of the Roman Empire in Europe to the creation of the nation we now know as Germany, the life of Anastasia Burkart reflects the momentous changes sweeping across her beloved Black Forest Homeland.
The oldest of several children, Anastasia takes care of her younger siblings, particularly when her mother struggles. Sshe must grow up quickly. At the age of nine, her parents give her a leather-bound book of days, in which she may write what she sees, thinks, and feels. As time goes on, she tells the story of her life - that of a never-wed mother of three in a conservative Catholic society. Hers is a story filled with strife, hardships, and love, spanning most of the nineteenth century.
Based on Anastasia's purported diaries, this novel presents her life story, turning a family genealogy into the flesh and bones of a real woman who passed on the family name down through the generations.
Anastasia Burkart is the author's great-great grandmother.
A woman chronicles political events and her diverse relationships in 19th-century Germany. In this historical novel, Maynard uses stories passed down as family history to imagine the life of her great-great-grandmother Anastasia Burkart.
The overall narrative is a quiet one, focused closely on Anastasia’s relationships and what it takes for her to survive. She is a compelling narrator, alert, practical, and shrewd.
Maynard touches on many relevant topics—religious divisions, smallpox inoculation, the guild system—within the context of the narrative, revealing substantial research and knowledge without burying readers in an excess of information. . . .
Maynard delivers an engrossing and well-developed narrative that should appeal to fans of women’s fiction.
Peeking into the past, especially centuries past, requires a special gift research and imagination. It also demands an acute sense of long-dead personal communication styles which, in our own century, are not easy to resurrect. Cindy Maynard has managed this with considerable skill. In the slim volume of her great-great grandmother’s story, set in the dramatic Napoleonic era, one does not find a single instance of inappropriate modern lingo. The more formal, self-censored dialogues of so many years ago slip easily into the narration as Anastasia suffers and matures, and allow us to peer obliquely into the daily lives of these characters, including their hidden emotional lives and hopes.
Yet this is not a Gothic romance novel. While we enjoy our spying on these long-dead characters, we can at the same time learn much about how they lived, and what they cherished or dreaded. In a few short chapters, we come to care about them. The author makes us believe in their virtues and flaws, in Anastasia’s aspirations, and ultimately in her fate
What an interesting book - based on the historical record of her ancestor, Maynard has written a realistic and touching story of a woman's life in the Black Forest, before the existence of a unified German state. I had learned some of this history before (small pox, Napoleon's empire, etc.), but seeing it on such a human scale is such a different perspective from the objective grand scale we usually use in school.