Send for Me: A novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Vintage
  • Published : 07 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 272
  • ISBN-10 : 1101972041
  • ISBN-13 : 9781101972045
  • Language : English

Send for Me: A novel

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER An achingly beautiful work of historical fiction that moves between Germany on the eve of World War II and present-day Wisconsin, unspooling a thread of love, longing, and the powerful bonds of family. A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK!

Based on the author's own family letters, Send for Me tells the story of Annelise, a young woman in prewar Germany. Growing up working at her parents' popular bakery, she's always imagined a future full of delicious possibilities. Despite rumors that anti-Jewish sentiment is on the rise, Annelise and her parents can't quite believe that it will affect them; they're hardly religious. But as she falls in love, marries, and gives birth to her daughter, the dangers grow closer. Soon Annelise and her husband are given the chance to leave for America, but they must go without her parents, whose future and safety are uncertain. 

Two generations later in a small Midwestern city, Annelise's granddaughter, Clare, is a young woman newly in love. But when she stumbles upon a trove of the letters her great-grandmother wrote from Germany after Annelise's departure, she sees the history of her family's sacrifices in a new light, leading her to question whether she can still honor the past while planning for her future.

Editorial Reviews

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • An Indie Next Great Read • A Parade Best Releases of the Year

"Beautifully written, deeply felt, tender and thoughtful."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Incandescent. . . . Send for Me reads like a memoir but has the kind of intimate detail born in the imagination of a novelist at the top of her game."

"An artfully constructed and richly absorbing novel that shows how love is strengthened, not weakened, over distance and time."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A richly imagined, lyrically written story."

"Imbued with lyrical prose, Send for Me is a beautiful tale of heartbreak and renewal, and of the love and loss we carry with us, generation after generation."
-Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

"Page after page of Send for Me shines with the author's brilliant prose. . . . Fox has written a book you will not soon forget."
-The Florida Times-Union

"Send for Me is a rare and beautiful novel. I loved this book."
-Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train

"Resonates long after its final pages. . . . Its beautifully rendered vignettes are, in essence, about ‘the fraying wire' that connects us to the past."
-The Anniston Star

"Extraordinarily nuanced and moving. . . . Fox elegantly incorporates lines and short excerpts of her own great-grandmother's letters, adding to the power and intimacy of this fine novel."
-The National Book Review

"Subtle, striking, and punctuated by snippets of family letters. . . . An intimate, insightful, intricately rendered story of intergenerational trauma and love."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Readers Top Reviews

Love seems to drip with every word, but unfortunately it isn't enough for me to thoroughly enjoy this story. I suppose I expected more, maybe a la Cynthia Freedman. There just isn't enough of each woman's experiences to fully develop the whole of its parts.
TazmaniaMichael Ryan
Not as much about WW2 as the relationships of mothers, daughters and grandparents over a period of time that begins shortly before WW2 in Germany. I found the story flow very bumpy. Story then broken up by bits of letters written from mother to daughter. I think the delivery was meant to be dramatic but I found the break up of the story very disconcerting and overall I was anxious to finish the story which tried to cover too many relationships.
Kindle Leigh C.
I really enjoy WW II novels, but this one. Gosh, I think my grandchildren could have written it better. It was the most disjointed book I have ever read! It jumped around so much it was hard to keep track who the story was about. This happened frequently from page to page. I just really wanted to like it, and I kept reading it to see if I could really grasp the story, but then I read the last page and I'm like, this is the end? Really? It didn't really end! Total waste of my money on a book that was suppose to have been a good book based on "book club" readers. Just not my cup of tea at all.
Avid Reader sherri
If you are looking for good WWII historical fiction this may not be the book for you. Send For Me is a story of mothers and daughters and the ties that bind families. The prose is beautiful, the emotion is deep, but there is not a lot of plot and even less joy in three generations of women. I also found the time skipping and constant perspective changing to be a distraction more than something that enhanced the story or enlivened the characters. I often think that authors overuse this device to compensate for a lack of story. That said, if a beautifully written exploration of mother/daughter relationships is what you want, you may enjoy this book.

Short Excerpt Teaser

I can hardly speak.

It starts with the panic, the sound of sharp knocking. The pounding on Annelise's door, a crash in her skull, jolting her from sleep. They're coming. Her heart slams, and she sits up, blind in the darkness. Her arms reach out. Where is the baby? Fear floods her lungs. She's drowning.

They're coming. Breathe. Hold the baby close, keep her quiet.

Is there something else in the churning flood of terror? In the squeeze of panic, the slightest slackening, relief? She's been waiting so long for this moment, dread her constant companion, and now it's here. Whatever horror is about to befall her, she won't have to fear it any longer.

In the room, silent now, she strains to hear. Her heart is pounding so hard her body is thrumming, her hands trembling. Is that her husband next to her, snoring softly? Is that the warm, reassuring shape of him? They will take him, too. They'll take all of it, everything and everyone she has ever loved. In an instant. A flash.

Years will pass, a long, surprising slant of light, and this terror will abate. She will pick her daughter up from school, stand in her kitchen with her hands on her hips, sip from a glass in the evening, slip under smooth sheets. But this will always be her frozen moment, the definition of her days. They will always be pounding on the door in the middle of the night. They will always be coming.

An hour doesn't pass that I don't think about you.

There is so much work to do. Toil is a constant in her life, the ongoing story of her years. In fact, Klara takes some comfort in its predictability, the way that a Sunday afternoon of polishing silver or washing floors can ease her nerves and stretch her mind into a pleasant blankness. And there is the undeniable satisfaction of a task completed, the pleasing order and gleam of a finely tended home.

Of course, there's also the bakery: her pride and livelihood, yes, but oh, those dreadful dark mornings, the midday heat, the relentless specifics of the measurements, the unforgiving timing of every little thing. Some days she wakes up, dawn still hours away, and the exhaustion of the day before clings to her; she would want to roll over and go back to sleep if she allowed herself even to want that.

Klara can never let on, can never show this weakness. Annelise grouses and mutters and yawns dramatically, stares with sullen dark eyes and refuses to speak for hours, the spectacle of her displeasure so varied and colorful, she's like a peacock of disdain.

She envies her daughter's extravagance. But Klara can't allow herself to crack. A word of complaint from her could loose an avalanche.

The precision of the bakery does, in a way, appeal to her nature, but it's such a precarious balance. They can't make any mistakes or they pay double, triple the price in lost revenue.

It changes a person-all of it, the tasks at hand. Klara has changed-of course she has! She's become someone who is entirely focused on the work she must do. But that's simply what it is to be a woman of good standing, to be alive in the world. It defies consideration.

Early in her marriage, there were mishaps: the loaf of bread that almost burned down the apartment, the boiled egg, forgotten, that exploded in the kitchen, sending bits of shell like shrapnel flying around the room. She cleaned up every last splinter before Annelise woke, before Julius came into the kitchen for coffee, and so only Klara herself, who accidentally knelt on a sharp chip of eggshell, was even slightly injured. She considers that injury . . . what? Not a punishment, exactly, but a reminder, the quick, searing pain a covenant. She learned not to make those mistakes, and in learning, she has become intolerant of laxity. And so, she has become intolerant of her own daughter.

How did such a girl come from her? Annelise was such an industrious child when she was small, so cheerful and competent, her dear little helper! But now she's almost fifteen, and a fog has settled over her. Now Annelise is alternately dreamy and resentful, her work at the bakery halfhearted at best. She suffers no remorse when she leaves a domestic task half done, when (sighing) she mops around the kitchen table instead of underneath it, when she takes the feather duster to the living room and then, halfway through, for no apparent reason, simply abandons her task.

Yes, Klara adores her daughter, of course she does. It's just that it is so much easier to adore her after the work is done. But this is the problem: the work is never done. And so, when Annelise complains...