Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/03/19
ISBN 9781681775654
Trim Size / Pages 9 x 6 in / 400

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The Hedge of Thorns

A Novel

Elizabeth Speller

A powerful and mysterious love story—set in the divided city of Berlin in 1968—evoking the post-war themes of loss, identity, and betrayal.

The city is melting in summer heat when Lucy Masterson arrives to start a new life with the husband she has known for only a short time. Through her marriage, she becomes an uneasy member of the expatriate community who are the occupying powers in the former capital of Germany. It is 1968—the wider world is restive but Berlin is still a wounded city; one where a new world has been built over ruins and postwar chaos. It is a place where spirit as well as bricks and mortar have been massively damaged, a place where even allies distrust each other, boredom can be dangerous, and rumors potentially deadly.

Russia, the fourth power in the occupying force, controls East Germany, having erected the Berlin Wall only a few years earlier. The balance of power is fraught, the peace fragile, shaking with every international confrontation. And caught between the four former allies are the German civilians, still bruised by defeat but with poignant memories. Within the walled city the tensions are replicated in the lives of its inhabitants. Secrets, hostilities, divided loyalties, strange alliances and a sense of entrapment underpin the life of pleasure and privilege enjoyed by foreigners posted to West Berlin.

But it's at the Devil's Mountain that Lucy begins to understand why she has been drawn to the city. Clearly not as innocent as she appears, she is aware of her role in a story that started long ago: Is her marriage one of love or convenience? A trap or an escape? Crucially, can she tell a friend from an enemy?

Few characters in The Hedge of Thorns are quite who they appear to be—and in a city where secrets and betrayal are embedded in history and fear, even love may be sacrificed.

Elizabeth Speller studied Classics at Cambridge University. She is the author of The Return of Captain John Emmett and The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton, both of which received stellar critical acclaim. She lives in England.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Speller combines a Ruth Rendell-like psychological realism and a Dickensian feel for life's roulette.” The Wall Street Journal [praise for Elizabeth Speller]
“Utterly gripping and completely immersing. Gritty, disturbing, moody, and intensely real, the novel’s psychological impact is like those of Mary Doria Russell’s A Thread of Grace and Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke and asks readers to consider war’s high costs. Great book-club fare.” Booklist (starred) [praise for Elizabeth Speller]
“Intriguing. A captivating wartime whodunit.” The Boston Globe [praise for Elizabeth Speller]
“World War I history buffs will enjoy this mystery, as will fans of period pieces. Readers who like Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series will savor this novel.” Library Journal [praise for Elizabeth Speller]
“An elegant, moving read.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [praise for Elizabeth Speller]