Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Wars don’t end when the shooting stops

Charles Johann Palmié Munich (Marienplatz) 1907

Charles Johann Palmié Munich (Marienplatz) 1907

I am so thankful to receive response from those who generously share their reading hours with my novel, The Munich Girl.

This week, I received these thoughts and insights from New Hampshire novelist Betsy Woodman and am happy to share them here:

 

A novel of the legacies that outlast war

Wars don’t end when the shooting stops. In the fields of Belgium and Northern France, people are still being killed by accidentally unearthed bombs—from World War I.

We also continue to process World War II—in books, in movies, in the care and tending of monuments—and in our hearts.

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A shot Eva Braun took of her mother looking in a travel agent’s window around 1937.

Along with the more visible damage, war creates mysteries that leave people feeling uneasy and incomplete. Confusion and grief may particularly affect the war brides who leave home with their foreign soldier husbands, and curiosity about their parents’ past may nag at the children of such marriages.

In Ring’s thought-provoking The Munich Girl, Anna Dahlberg is the child of just such a war marriage. Her mother had both British and German heritage; her dad was an American soldier. We first see Anna in 1995, choked with panic in her airplane seat and clutching a handkerchief embroidered with a four-leaf clover. Mysteries abound: what earlier trauma has produced this state? Why is Anna headed for Germany? What will she unearth in her exploration of events that started over half a century ago?

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Eva Braun and her infamous companion.

Foremost in Anna’s mind is the question, was her mother really a close friend of Adolf Hitler’s mistress (and wife for 40 hours), Eva Braun?

The Munich Girl is not always comfortable to read. Hearing Hitler referred to as “Adi” in conversation will make some readers squirm. Until they think—well, even villains have someone who loves them. In life, as in fiction, so much is a matter of point of view. The reader is invited to stretch and understand people like Eva Braun, who don’t usually arouse much sympathy.

Ignorance of one’s past and of the people in it can leave a person feeling frustrated, baffled, and empty. Knowledge and reconnection are the cure. The Munich Girl is about healing, rediscovery, and finding one’s way out of the darkness into a bright future. Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s international perspective and deep sympathy for human beings shine through in this unorthodox and subtle tale.                   ~ Betsy Woodman

716oe2sfVuL._UX250_Find information about Betsy Woodman’s delightful India-based novels –

Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes,

Love Potion Number 10, and

Emeralds Included here:

http://www.amazon.com/Betsy-Woodman/e/B007CLOK7Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1454528756&sr=1-2-ent


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Books, birthdays and butterflies

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Enter by Feb. 6 to win.

As my novel, The Munich Girl, reaches more readers, I’m continually moved and surprised by the level of response that the book is bringing.

It’s a privilege to receive readers’ impressions about themes that weave through the story.

Gayle Hoover notes,  “It’s the women in this story who have the real strength, even in instances when they easily could have been seen as only victims.”

At the heart of it all, the story’s goal is to encourage discussion at levels that will take another look at many things, including our very own selves.

Albert Marquet - Jardin du Luxembourg, 1898. Oil on canvas, 15 x 17 3_4 in. (38 x 45 cm). @ Sotheby's Images, London_n

Albert Marquet, Jardin du Luxembourg, 1898. Oil on canvas, Sotheby’s Images, London

Those who’ve made the way through the novel know that many objects and events in it invite the way toward looking at things anew. One image in particular that does this is a butterfly.

February is the month when the two friends in this story each have a birthday, each born in a Leap Year like this one.

To celebrate, I’m having a drawing at the beginning and end of the month. On February 6, which was also Eva Braun’s birthday, I’ll draw the name of two winners for a signed copy of the book and a silver butterfly bracelet designed by artist Diane Kirkup.

To enter, send an email to info@phyllisring.com with “Butterfly” in the subject line. Those who include any thoughts about the book or a photo of themselves with it will receive 3 entries.12369218_10208140857064106_2523709969075442989_n

And my deepest thanks to each and every one who is connecting with The Munich Girl.

It is readers, and only readers, who give a book its truest life.

 

Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies that Outlast War here:

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453984733&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Munich+Girl


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The writing path of The Munich Girl

I am honored to be an interview guest this week at New Hampshire writer Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews Blog.

944080_1103095966369547_7004980646450369999_nWhat inspired you to write this book?

German families were among my very first friends and Germany made a deep impression on my heart when my family lived there in the 1960s. I wanted to understand more about Germany’s experience during the war.

Shortly after I decided this, I received a copy of British/German writer Angela Lambert’s biography of Eva Braun. Then a combination of still somewhat baffling circumstances led to my owning the portrait of Eva that features in the story. You never know where a decision will lead. At the time, I was simply looking to learn and understand, not necessarily write a book. I certainly never imagined that the pathway of my discoveries about Germany would follow the life of Hitler’s companion.

What exciting story are you working on next?

IMG_6046My next book is likely to be a memoir-style reflection about where this novel has led me. Nothing about it is what I would ever have imagined or predicted on my writing path, and there are experiences I’ve had in the course of this book’s coming together that I’m probably never going to be able to understand, let alone explain.

One of the most personally stunning …

Read the rest at: http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/2016/01/interview-with-historical-fiction_29.html CU6VjsYWIAEv_Sc

 

Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies that Outlast War at:

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453742293&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Munich+Girl

 


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A Lover of Books hosts The Munich Girl

Grateful to Sonya Alford for including my Guest Post at her A Lover of Books Blog this week:

tumblr_m7n6ytThHG1rp2skqo1_500Not even in extra-large versions of my wildest dreams did I imagine I would write a novel in which Hitler’s wife is a character.

The Munich Girl is about many things, including a secret friendship between two women, one of whom was the megalomaniac’s mistress — later wife — Eva Braun.

Anna, my novel’s protagonist, grew up eating most family meals under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Braun.

This baffling situation has never been explained, other than that the portrait is a sort of emblem for her father of the Allies’ triumph over the evils of the Third Reich. e926fb293eafa51b9dded9b53301f087

Everything in Anna’s life is turned upside-down when she discovers that her mother had a secret friendship with Hitler’s mistress, and that the portrait is a key to unwrapping all of the other secrets this enfolds.

Read the rest at: https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/guest-post-by-phyllis-edgerly-ring/

 

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Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of The Legacies That Outlast War at:

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447865405&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Munich+Girl

 


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Love’s call to creative living

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Photo: Wertheim.de

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

Some more wonderful company, as I ponder the mysteries of inspiration and creative process while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear:

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Photo: Wertheim.de

“I think being motivated is naturally built-in to one’s vocation. When you walk a path you love, there is something deeper calling you forward on it, like a beautiful question that can never be answered. In the hard times you may turn away from it, but a part of you knows you’ll always turn back because you can’t give up on what you love, even if you try.

In the end, I think the real work is not finding inspiration, but attuning to it. So when I’m not feeling inspired, I know somewhere along the line I’ve been distancing myself from life.

This feeling of being separate from ‘something greater’ is usually brought about by numbing habits; so I’ll take myself to the forest and let my senses be reawoken and warmed back to life. I think pleasure is really the gateway to feeling connected and inspired.”

 ~ Dreamwork with Toko-pa

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Photo: Wertheim.de

Such love does the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand
in a field,
I have to wring out the light
when I get home.

 ~ St. Francis of Assisi

It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free.

The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


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“Uncomplicated read of a complex situation”

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A room where Eva Braun likely did a lot of her own reading. Photo courtesy of Third Reich in Ruins.

I believe it’s writers’ biggest privilege to have others read their work. After all, our world has more books in it than ever before.

When book reviewers (who are, most often, inundated with authors’ requests for reviews) make the time to read, reflect on, and write a review for a book, it’s nothing short of supreme generosity.

As The Munich Girl makes its way out into a world of readers, it’s a gift each time a reviewer shares response to the novel. This week, writer Carol Sampson has offered her thoughts about it at her blog, and also introduced a new circle of her own readers to the book.

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Writer and reviewer Carol Sampson

Back in November when the book’s print version published, Carol was the very first person to respond when, hunched over my laptop in my good friend’s guest room in Germany, I searched for book bloggers who might be interested in giving the book that increasingly rare resource: their time. I was especially grateful to connect with Carol, who, like my mother, is from the UK.

It’s an extra bonus when a reviewer recognizes both the themes and the intent that The Munich Girl is meant to convey. Carol notes that the novel reflects my own interest “in people, their relationships, and the effects we all have on one another in the decisions we make. Each character reveals different aspects of humanity and gives an insight into the human condition.”

12342460_10208150312625888_7743673090992892225_nDescribing the story as a weaving of history and fiction that’s “an uncomplicated read of a complex situation,” she kindly credits it with  “offering an understanding of the intricacies of relationships.”

With my deepest thanks to Carol, I encourage you to read her full review at the link below and, while you’re there, check out the other great recent post she’s done called “Who am I to judge?”

 

Link to Carol Sampson’s review here:

http://carolsampson.co.uk/blog/the-munich-girl-a-novel-of-the-legacies-that-outlast-war/


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There is no such thing as small change

1922492_10153341394052228_6003546863571588601_nAround this time of year, I’m reminded of a story that showed me what a myth it is that people can’t change, that generations of behaving a certain way will only lead to more of the same.

A couple that we know made enormous efforts over the years to help their neighborhood be a better place for kids. Once a thriving, middle-class community to which the husband’s grandparents immigrated, it had fallen into decay with their city’s economic depression. Little by little, the couple’s home — that house his grandparents bought long ago — became a safe haven for the neighborhood’s kids, many of whom had little or nonexistent home life, or parents who just didn’t know how to get up from taking too many hits when they were already down.

11049450_931176180248396_9131258257236031369_nAs our friends and their own three children watched their home evolve into a de facto Boys and Girls Club, they decided to be intentional about it. They bought the house next door (an affordable prospect in a neighborhood where few choose to live) and invested in putting a pool in their backyard. Over the next decade of summers, a lot of kids gathered around that pool. The warm welcome they received there included rules, limits and a chance to develop self-discipline that most would find nowhere else, It was a chance to develop what Dr. King once called “the content of their character” — and to understand that this is the real purpose in life. Dozens of kids who passed through that house, and many of their parents, found possibilities in life they might never have known existed.

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Illustration by Leona Hosack

I thought I knew this couple’s story until, while I was visiting with them, the husband nodded toward a city bus stop as we drove past and said, “That’s where it all began. As they shared the story of their courtship and decision to marry shortly after high school, he described how, as they were standing at that bus stop one day, star-stuck with love and making big plans for their future together, he’d said something offhandedly. A car of men with faces as dark as most of their neighbors today had driven by, and without even thinking, he’d uttered a racial slur. It was something he’d heard fairly frequently among his peers.

“I’ll never forget the look on her face.” His own expression was somber in memory. “That look in her eyes, it was a combination of disbelief and anger, disappointment and sadness.”

That look, he said, had made the biggest impact on him of all, unleashing changes he could never have predicted.

His wife explained that she’d grown up with her family’s foster son, whom she truly loved like a brother, and who was black. The circle of her family’s African-American friends was also wide. Hearing her future husband say something like this seemed unthinkable, and unacceptable. As she turned to him with that look that day, she told him, “I don’t think I can be with you.” bruisenot10628403_896653373691808_2232318852909161472_n

At the time, her husband notes, any remorse on his part was motivated strictly by the desire not to lose her. “But I also didn’t want to lose the love and trust and respect for me that I saw leave her eyes when I’d said that,” he says. “And I knew that I wanted the mother of my children to be someone who had the strength of conviction that she had. It was brave to take a stand like that, because she really loved me, and what I did must have been a big disappointment to her.”

Like the efforts they later made to help their neighborhood’s children, nothing came easily, or overnight. But he did have a kind of epiphany that day, he says. “I realized that I had more choice about what I could do, and think, and believe, than I had understood. A lot of my actions and beliefs came out of the way my family and those who I’d grown up with saw things, and it was my responsibility to recognize where I’d been influenced by that, and to decide for myself.”

Standing at the bus stop that day, he couldn’t have imagined where such a willingness to change would lead him. Not only did that house of his grandparents eventually become an interracial community center, but his own circle of friends and family looks so much different than it might have had he chosen a different path that day at the bus stop.

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The kind of change that moves away from blind imitation of the past is nearly always an act of real moral courage, however small it may appear at first. The smallest action or decision to change based on principle or new understanding can often be overlooked by others, seemingly invisible at the time. But as my friends — and their many friends — can testify, it initiates a quietly powerful momentum that, like the lever of Archimedes, sometimes can move the world.

312q7DGYsbL._SL110_Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

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