Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


Leave a comment

Writing’s invitation to wholeness

Eva Braun taking her love of animals to an extreme.

I’m very grateful to share a guest post at the creative blog of writer Nicola Auckland.

Nicola was one of the very first to read and review my novel, The Munich Girl, and offer insightful feedback about it.

Her Sometimes Stellar Storyteller blog features delightful Six Word Story challenges, and explores one of my favorite things — creative process.

As she hosts me this week, I’ve done my best to address some of my own experience with it:

“Nine years ago, I made a bid on an eBay item that would change my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the time.

“Something within me was strongly drawn to it, though I didn’t yet understand why. It was a portrait of Eva Braun drawn by an artist who never gained acclaim for his work — though his infamous name is branded on history forever. Eva Braun chose to die with him 72 years ago this spring.

“That portrait is at the heart of everything that became a part of my latest novel’s story, set largely in the Germany of World War II. The experience of writing The Munich Girl showed me that, rather than being something I ‘do,’ writing is a process that acts upon me, strengthening my sense of connection with my own wholeness.

“My responsibility, I feel, is to listen and watch, rather than impose ideas or plans of my own on what comes forth as a story.

“Albert Einstein described the intuitive mind as ‘a sacred gift’ and the rational mind as ‘a faithful servant.’ We have, he said, ‘created a society that honors the servant, and has forgotten the gift.’ ”

READ THE WHOLE POST AT:

Stellar Guest Post from Phyllis Ring

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Writerly hospitality from author Linda Tiernan Kepner

I am honored to be a guest this week at the blog of author and librarian Linda Tiernan Kepner:

In her writing, Phyllis treats the most amazing people as simple, understandable human beings. But it takes a lot of work to create that illusion

The Munich Girl is a case in point. This is a work of fiction, but it is not entirely fiction. The war-trophy exists. Eva Braun, the ordinary girl from Munich, Germany, was indeed Hitler’s mistress.  She never did join the Nazi Party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives.

Yet she stayed out of the limelight for sixteen years before her lover publicly acknowledged their relationship.  He only married her at the time he was throwing in the towel, as if that marriage emphasized his defeat.”

Linda Tiernan Kepner: Phyllis, what are you working on, currently?

I’m alternating between two projects. One is what I’d call spiritual memoir, based on my experience with writing my novel The Munich Girl and some of the nearly inexplicable synchronicities that it brought. The other is historical fiction set in 19th-century New England.

LTP: When you look back … what works are you proudest of?

PER:

I’m truly thankful for every book I’ve been able to publish.

The newest book, just released, is my first for children — Jamila Does Not Want A Bat In Her House. It reinforces for me the importance of never giving up, as it first took shape 19 years ago

The book that has absorbed the most of my time, both during the writing process and since publication, is The Munich Girl. I’d never have imagined writing a novel in which Hitler’s wife was a character. 

Yet as someone whose earliest life experience unfolded in Germany, I had always known I’d eventually want to explore what the experience of WWII had meant for everyday Germans, especially because for so very long, they didn’t talk about it — felt they weren’t “allowed” to.

Find my full interview with Linda at:

http://www.lindatkepner.com/guest-page.html

 

 


Leave a comment

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.

0

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?

EB pix Germany and more 610

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


4 Comments

The Book’s the Thing is my kind hostess

munichgirl_card_backErika at The Book’s the Thing Blog has kindly included a Guest Post from me this week:

Coming Full-circle with The Munich Girl

I had the opportunity to spend time in Germany just as my novel, The Munich Girl, came full-circle to publication this year. DCRothen69673_10151484470081802_1069344063_n

In the previous weeks, as I’d reviewed the book’s galleys, the story’s scenes drew me back into settings I will carry with me always. Some of them have been a part of my inner geography from earliest childhood.

Others are actual locations in which the story takes place.

11693847_10153154037654690_1412467856560386590_n

Photo courtesy Penny Sansevieri / Author Marketing Experts – http://www.amarketingexpert.com/penny-sansevieri/

And many of these, from cobblestone alleys to Alpine vistas, tiny villages to city squares filled with symphonies of church bells, are ones in which I did the actual writing.

Much like the book’s protagonist, Anna, I repeatedly experience the many kinds of homecomings, spiritual and material, that life brings to us. Much like her, I often find myself in a kind of unbelieving daze as I sit in the same café I’ve known since childhood. Two years, ago, and maybe also five, I sat there capturing down pieces of a story that has always felt more like finding my way toward a puzzle’s finished image than any kind of strategic plotting.

If the remedy for feeling out-of-sync in life is to reside in the moment, then we are all here today as I type this: my child self, sitting alongside my parents; that story-struck one who aspired to go the distance with wherever the writing process led with this novel’s story (and wondering, at times, whether I truly would); and my self today, blessed to have reached a point of completion.

Read the rest at: http://booksthething.com/2015/12/10/guest-post-giveaway-phyllis-edgerly-ring-author-of-the-munich-girl/comment-page-1/#comment-1660


2 Comments

Seeking the soul of a people

cropped-munichgirl_card_front.jpg

Reader and author Ginny Towler has given The Munich Girl the kind of insightful and engaged review at Goodreads a writer can only dream of.

Also, a Giveaway for signed copies of The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War is up at Goodreads through Dec. 9 (link below).

goodreads_icon_100x100-4a7d81b31d932cfc0be621ee15a14e70     “I am stingy with my stars because I believe people don’t pay attention when they see five stars. They think, ‘Yeah, right,’ and they chalk up the exuberance of the rating to the relationship of the reviewer to the author.

In full disclosure, I was given an advance copy of the novel for an honest review. It’s not something that I am accustomed to doing, nor do I like the privilege, as it were, as one is inclined to not want to write anything disappointing about the author’s work.

I had already been interested in Phyllis Ring’s writing after reading her book, Snow Fence Road. Her writing conjures up a different era, of a 1940s sensibility, where the less said, the more is explained. …

… let me tell you the many reasons why I so love this novel and believe it should be considered an American classic.

Phyllis’s love of language jumps off of the page and into your mind with such ease, you don’t even feel as though you’re reading. She speaks to you. Her characters become your friend, even the subject of the novel, Eva Braun, which is absolutely frightening. That I should feel any sympathy with a woman who was romantically involved with one of the most heinous human beings ever to be brought into this world is disturbing to me. Which is one of the reasons why this book is so important.

EB pix Germany and more 619    As someone who had loved film most of her life, I had wondered about Eva Braun’s importance to both German cinema and filmography, as I was aware that her films extolled Hitler’s iconography, as it were. But I never took the time to research Braun, in particular. Conjuring up her name usually accompanied an imaginary bile, in me, a distaste in what she represented, so she was not someone whom I really ever wanted to know, per se. So, when I learned about Phyllis’ work, I was truly fascinated with what she might glean about her for us.

EB pix Germany and more 241   Although the book is labeled fiction, truthfully, it’s hard to believe it is, as the details jump off the page. Phyllis appears to have traced the comings and goings of this enigmatic woman, who, was encamped in her various places of refuge, waiting for her man, Der Fuhrer, to return to her. And it is in this capacity that we understand her: a woman of her time period, who turned the other way while her man went off to war, doing these “manly,” but hopelessly imbecilic and crazy things. He would return to her periodically, every couple of weeks or months, while she waited for him, dutifully. Did she remain willfully blind, ignoring the atrocities that were being committed in the name of the Fatherland? Or was she too close to him to even know what he was doing, because when he returned to her, he was her lover, not her military commander?

tumblr_mt4oxuoa4B1s7jim8o1_1280    Was the man who could butcher so many people the same man who could come home to her, and luxuriate in the arms of his beloved, exposing his vulnerabilities to her only? I’m not sure we’ll ever know, but there’s an inkling of what Eva probably felt during the years that she was with him (17 years, I seem to count). Was there any redeeming quality in her that makes her seem more human, and less a monster of historic proportions, in our hatred of all things “Third Reich?” You’ll have to read to find that out for yourself.

Above all, this book is about women. About friendship. About the way we protect each others’ vulnerabilities. Of the secrets we keep. And about our loyalty to each other, though we carry out our daily lives supporting our men, as that’s what women did, especially back in the day.

EB pix Germany and more 231   The novel is also about love. The kind we women always dream about and find in the character Hannes, a new hero for all women. I defy any woman not to believe him to be the man we’ve all been waiting for, or, if married, for whom we’d divorce our husbands if we had a chance to be with him.

The story is also a mystery, of the history behind a portrait that hangs in the home of an American woman of English and German descent. It is a story about longing to reconnect with our beloved deceased, of learning the things that our parents could not tell us for fear of destroying our own lives yet to be realized.

eva-braunPhyllis has done a very brave thing, sharing a history with us that might be part of her own past, on some level. But the care that she took in making it plausible is also a gift to the reader. She dares look at the soul of the German during WWII, and the aftermath, in a reconciliation of sorts, that still hasn’t been accomplished beyond the Nuremberg Trials, except through the bravery of women like Phyllis who are willing to open the door a crack to give us an opportunity to ask questions, ponder, and reconcile our humanity with our inhumanity.

I’m sure I’ll read this book a second time. There are so many layers to it. I found it an irresistible and important read.”

                                                           ~ VL Towler, author, Severed

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway:

The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

The Munich Girl

by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Released November 14 2015

Giveaway ends in 8 days (December 09, 2015)

8 copies available

giveaway details »

Find more about the novel The Munich Girl at:

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/

 


2 Comments

Yes! Finally! The Munich Girl

372706883-friedrich-braun-gretl-braun-franziska-braun-eva-braun
The Munich Girl is now, at last — really — available to order at Amazon —
and at any bookstore or book-sales outlet where readers prefer to shop.
 
Thank you so much to the readers who have already journeyed through the story and are sending your feedback and response, and to those who are posting your reader reviews and telling others about the book. Author, Eric Mondschein, my special thanks for your review:
 
5.0 out of 5 starsThe Munich Girl is definitely a Keeper!, November 22, 2015
munichgirl_card_front
“The Munich Girl … both a mystery and a love story.  … a woman’s quest to discover why there was a portrait of Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler’s mistress, hanging on the wall in her family’s dining room and just what connection, if any, Braun had with her family.
The story introduces us to Eva Braun and the time just before and during World War II in Germany. But it is also so much more. It is about the human spirit, survival, friendship, love, betrayal, discovery and denial as the reader is taken on a journey through time and place. Ring draws the reader in with her unique ability to bring her characters to life—and compels you to want to get to know them.
Although this is a work of fiction, it is also an historical portrait about real-life characters. Ring paints a mosaic through dialogue and setting that allows for the possibility to imagine that this story just might have taken place.”
And, my gratitude to columnist, reader and reviewer Leslie Handler:
Fiction So Convincing, You’ll Think It’s Real –
277adb383d236e345fda3078dae95618
“I knew I was reading fiction, but the read felt so unusually personal that I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, it was an actual memoir of the author’s mother and her real life relationship with the girlfriend of the world’s most infamous figure.
And then I found out the truth. Phyllis Ring actually owns the real portrait of Eva Braun! A fiction, truly based on facts, Ring’s newest novel is a must read.”
Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War at:


5 Comments

Preview: Cover and Excerpt from The Munich Girl

munichgirl_card_front

The Munich Girl:

A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War

Here is an excerpt from the book.

I’m delighted with the way cover artist / book designer Marina Dutzmann Kirsch has captured the mood and atmosphere of the story. 

The following scene is set in the vicinity of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria and I’m grateful to illustrate it with images from David Campbell of http://www.gbctours.com.

The post also features a few of Eva’s Braun’s photographs from the place and period.

 

11222360_10153630786406802_5715655182105322089_n

Photo: David Campbell / http://www.GBCTours.com

Excerpt from The Munich Girl:

For my extra day of freedom, I planned to linger over breakfast at a table with a sunny view of the mountains. But the dining room was a frenetic symphony of clinking and clattering when I arrived and the maitre d’ stuck me in a dark corner.

I had just poured my coffee when a young male voice shrilled, “Fräulein Peggy Adler?” from the entrance.

I turned as he reached my table in a handful of long strides. He wore the stiff uniform of Hitler’s Leibstandarte: dark tunic, breeches, tall boots, and rounded helmet. All that was missing was the rifle customarily slung over the shoulder.

11214036_10153629747436802_7978977069687985335_n

Photo: David Campbell

“Come with me, please.”

Terror struck so hard, I couldn’t speak—not even to ask where. Especially not that. It seemed incriminating. At last, I stammered, “I-I—”

“You have been requested for an interview,” he said.

What kind of interview? I still couldn’t find words to ask. Should I get my stenographer’s pad? Or was this about questioning me?

“We have a car waiting outside.” His tone was threaded with impatience, as though I were already taking too long, being too slow to understand. I’m surprised he didn’t check his watch, tap his foot. His face had a youthful softness. He was perhaps 19 or 20. I thought of my brother, Peter.

10534448_10153541151561802_1922692808996593082_n

Photo: David Campbell

I noticed a waiter at the neighboring table and glanced at my unfinished cup of coffee, as though it might offer some possibility of reprieve—he would insist I stay, since I hadn’t finished.

He also seemed uneasy around the guard as he said, “No trouble, Madam. We will keep your table for you.”

But would I return to it?

Then I remembered my co-workers, and Erich, and blanched with fear as cold as the sweat that rose instantly on my neck. Hadn’t I been careful enough, yesterday? Had I said too much? Had someone besides Eva been listening, or had my cohorts from the Foreign Office somehow been found out?

EB pix Germany and more 276

From Eva Braun photo albums National Archives

My mind raced to the worst of all possibilities—they’d been apprehended. I refused to let that thought take root, claimed my mind back from it the way I try to rescue my breath from panic each night in the air-raid shelter back in Berlin.

Appear unfazed and cooperative. I’d heard this tactic from Erich and others in the Resistance. If stopped by the Gestapo, or called in for any reason, seem slightly surprised, untroubled, and entirely willing to comply.

I reached to gather my things. I had only my purse, and the book I’d brought along. “Will we be going far?” I found courage to ask.

“It is right nearby.”

When we reached the car, his brisk movements included a snap of his heels as he opened the door for me. Clearly, he wasn’t going to manhandle me like a suspected criminal. Not yet. EB pix Germany and more 400

I clambered into the back, toward the middle, and closer, of the two bench-like seats. The mammoth Mercedes had as many huge tires as a delivery truck. Its convertible top was down, and bright sun blinded my eyes.

The young uniform joined the driver in front. The car exited the Platterhof parking lot, made a hard left, and rolled down a sharp incline, though only a short distance.

Goering’s house was somewhere off to the right, hidden by trees. I’d learned recently that beneath us was a burgeoning network of tunnels and bunkers under construction, a subterranean complex that those who dwelt above ground might not even know was there. Perhaps it would open up suddenly and swallow us all. EB pix Germany and more 301

The car blocked the narrow road when it stopped at a guardhouse barely big enough for one person to stand inside. Behind it was the Hotel Türkenhof where Aunt Paula and I had once stayed. It looked to be in use as barracks of some kind. Is that where they were taking me?

The uniform turned and said, “Your papers, please.”

I had them ready in anticipation of this, though I’d already gone through all the rigmarole of admission to the Führer Zone two days ago.

He took them, got out, and strode to the guard shack.

EB pix Germany and more 507I’d been taken in for questioning once before, after I’d accompanied Jewish children to England as an escort with the Kindertransport. A petty Nazi bureaucrat summoned me because of my dual citizenship. I’d dressed conservatively in a simple cotton print skirt that hinted at a dirndl’s lines, and a borrowed white blouse tied loosely at the throat so the top half of my décolletage was visible, while the rest remained virtuously concealed.

During my inquisitor’s first burst of questions, I’d offered simple answers with a demeanor of complicit meekness. Finally, I’d evoked tears by imagining the inevitable fate of that Jewish child I’d seen pulled back through the train window into her father’s arms. “Can’t you imagine how thankful I am that Germany is my birthplace?” I nearly shouted at him. “That my mother is so faithful?”

More advice from those in the Resistance: act indignant, insulted even, at the very dishonor of being suspected of disloyalty.

“There are many spies,” he said. “Dual citizenship makes an excellent cover.”

11863224_10153657485491802_3375956027172065433_n

Photo: David Campbell

It does, indeed, my thoughts concurred.

“How can you even suggest such disgrace?” I tried to sound hurt. “When my British blood is disgrace enough, for me?”

Then I’d covered my face in the refuge—and strategy—of sobs. It had been over-dramatic, but I wanted to leave no doubt in his mind. I used my best high German for these impassioned declarations. Once I saw he was softening, I lapsed into the Schwäbisch dialect I’d detected in his own speech, thanking God for my ear for nuance and language.

The inquisitor turned almost paternal, even invited me for coffee. I’d had to pretend disappointment, say I was expected home to help Mutti.

“You are the kind of maid who will assure the Fatherland’s triumph!” he’d avowed, like the final line of some Wagnerian drama.

“Whatever you do, use the language of the current view, and mold it to your needs,” Erich had advised me before I’d accompanied those Jewish children to safety.

It was the only way to deal with these fools. These very dangerous fools.

munichgirl_card_back

Click on image at the left for more information about

The Munich Girl:

A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War

To join the book’s mailing list, email: info@phyllisring.com.

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/