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By Sue Eckstein
Published by Myriad Editions
ISBN 9780956559968
Category historical
Autumn 2012


When Julia Rosenthal returns to her suburban childhood home, the unspoken tensions of family life come flooding back. In a different place and time, another woman struggles to tell the story of her early years in wartime Germany, gradually revealing the secrets she has carried through the century, until past and present collide. To buy ebook: Interpreters

Author's Biography

Sue Eckstein previously worked for VSO and is now a lecturer at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Her plays include The Tuesday Group, Kaffir Lilies, and Old School Ties all for BBC Radio 4. Her first novel The Cloths of Heaven, published in 2009, was serialised on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour in 2010.


A skilfully constructed saga spanning five generations...Interpreters is an ambitious book with an impressive breadth and an inventive way of intertwining its two plots. Times Literary Supplement With her characteristic lucid prose and deft characterisation, Eckstein has produced another finely-wrought, gripping novel that is destined to be a favourite with book groups. A compelling exploration of memory and loss. Observer Strongly written...demonstrates that trauma is the most powerful inheritance of all. Jewish Chronicle Creates a poignantly vivid sense of the horrors of war...the narrative is compelling and powerful. We too, as readers, become interpreters. We Love This Book Price  £8.99                Binding: Paperback          

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Reader Comments

An extraordinarily brilliant book that lingers in your mind long after you've finished reading it.
A really good read which kept me turning the pages. The characters reminded me of people but also surprised me. I particularly liked the parts about Germany.
I particularly enjoyed her prose- the different styles,different stories,different characters,different generations, all skillfully woven together in an original and captivating way.
Initially, rather a challenging read until I had sorted out all the generations. However, from then on it was an excellent read - well written, interesting, informative and absorbing.
A deft juggling of periods but a strong central theme
I thoroughly enjoyed this book
I loved this book spanning personal and broader political histories. The pace is good and unfolds well, particularly once the different voices are engaged with. Intriguing, compassionate,psychologically fluent and written with a unique and fresh voice. I'll read more from Sue Eckstein.
A well written which I enjoyed so much I re read it immediately . The book looks at issues of communication within families over different generations and cultures. It's an absorbing story covering some painful subjects yet with sharp humour which balances out the tension.I have given the book as presents to several relatives and friends.
This is such a brilliant book! Sue Eckstein writes so beautifully and vividly about the deepest of emotions, going right to the core of what holds families together and what can tear them apart. This is one of the best books I've read this year. I read it over one weekend and felt bereft as soon as I'd finished it. I've since recommended it widely and bought at least three more copies to give away as presents. I really hope it wins.
A very powerful, well crafted and moving book. Highly recommended .
The words flow off the page with a clarity that transports you to that place in time. It is eloquently penned and you yearn to find out more about the characters and their stories.
'Interpreters' has become my favourite contemporary novel. It reveals so well in an impressively realistic and appealing way the cruel and lasting effects of Nazi Germany and the Second World War on people's identity. It makes me think about my own German past and helps to remember what my grandparents and parents used to tell about that time. Furthermore - for my generation - 'Interpreters' helps to see and understand the flaws in ourselves we have to struggle with.
A fabulous book, well written, reflecting across generations. Having read it once, I had to read it again. This is the second book I have read by this author, both of which, although quite different, are both great reads. Very absorbing. Wonderful, I look forward to the next book.
great book
A riveting story, making strong demands on the reader which are richly rewarded. Timelines are interwoven between three generations across markedly different terrains and eras. A mature writer with impressive command of narrative and character.
I have read the authors last two books and enjoyed them immensley. Looking forward to the next one.
I have not been so absorbed in a book for a long time.
Intense family histories, sibling relationships and memories in a middle class suburban household are intertwined with the backdrop tale of war experiences. Beautifully written and absorbing with skilful, spare prose.
Thoroughly engaging. Why do more people not know about this book?
A brilliantly-crafted, absorbing and moving novel. Hope it wins.
I highly recommend this well written and absorbing book. She is a master at capturing a sence of time and place and exploring family dynamics.
Powerful and moving, Eckstein's prose is pin-point perfect. One of the most memorable books I have read in a long time.
Great second book from a wonderful writer
A great book
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.Cleverly constructed and totally absorbing.
I very much enjoyed this book - thought provoking!
Brilliant, completely comoelling
I really love this book. I cannot stop reading!
A real page turner. A hugely enjoyable read which I couldn't put down. My daughter (14) also read it and enjoyed it.
I was looking for something new to read and give as a birthday gift. I am buying two copies but I am giving it my vote now as I am confident that if Myriad has published it, it has to be good!
Evocative of family life,draws deeply the emotions and feelings and secrets of families in an exciting and comprehansive plot. Great read!
I loved this book. So evocative a of by-gone era and a real page-turner. Eckstein has a wonderful, understated humour in her writing which I find a joy to read.
beautiful writing. deserves lots of votes!
This is an amazing book. The plot is clever, intriuging and insightful. I was hooked to carry on reading till the brilliant ending. I would recommend this book to other book lovers. It made me reflect on my personal and family memories and legacy. True art makes one believe that fiction and relaity can inform and enrich each other. Highly recommended.
Really enjoyable read!
A terrific read with two not quite parallel plots. The intertwining really holds the reader provoking mystery. The story does not end. It becomes believable history.
This is a wonderful book, brilliantly and evocatively exploring cross-generational family experience with huge emotional intelligence and subtle sens of humour. Highly recommended. My book group also loved it.
For me, Eckstein captures beautifully suburban childhood in the 1960s and the mistakes and misinterpretations that a child can make that may persist into adulthood. This aspect reminded me strongly of Michael Frayn's 'Spies'. I echo what others have said about the clever interweaving of the two narratives. The structure of the novel is excellent and, unlike some works which disappoint at the end, Interpreters' conclusion is wholly satisfying to the reader, while leaving you musing a long while on the uncertainties and missed opportunities of life.
A beautiful and evocative portrait of the relationship between a brother and sister in the 1970s. The mysteriousness of parental secrets is explored in a compelling tale.
Complex,challenging and well written.
I loved the book, great prose,characters and a story line which carried you through with a stimulating pace. Keep them coming Eckstein your books are a joy to read.
I loved this book with its clever interwoven stories. Eckstein has a compelling easy going style yet describes complex human interactions with great insight and intelligence. Hope the next Eckstein novel will be out soon!
A compelling, well-constructed novel which was hard to put down. Loved it!
Another thought-provoking, emotionally challenging and beautifully written book by Eckstein. I did not want it to end and was really cross when it did. I wanted more and to know more about the story. I cannot recommend it enough.
What a challenge - this bears re-reading as our interpretations change
It's such a cliché to say I couldn't put this book down, but it's true. I took it with me while on a series of plane journeys so that I had something to read when I couldn't use electronic equipment. Such an `un-put-downable' book was a bad choice as I read it right through on the first leg of the journey, leaving nothing for the rest of the trip. The opening chapter grabs the reader's attention, yet it also had me laughing out loud, in much the same way as I did with the opening of Jeanette Winterson's "Oranges are not the only Fruit". The interweaving of the narratives of mother and daughter created a tension that was at times almost painful, but completely compelling. As a more-or-less contemporary of Julia, the daughter, the childhood memories rang true to me. Julia's ignorance of her mother's life is astonishing in many ways, but recently I've heard a number of accounts from friends who are only just beginning to learn something of their parents' lives during the Second World War, so it feels very plausible. There are some wonderful moments where the two narratives echo each other. This is a book that is full of sadness, missed opportunities for understanding within a family, and lots of humour. It remains with the reader long after the last page, questioning our ability to understand any other person's life, and even our own selves. As the cover of the book says "Sometimes the past really is a foreign country". A very apt claim in this case, in more ways than one.
An evocative and imaginative novel, with a biographical feeling. It illustrates how powerfully personal experiences can affect the lives of ourselves and others long after they occurred and even in subsequent generations. It reminds the reader that there are some things we'll never know about what has shaped other people's ways and behaviours and that we should always strive to be compassionate.
Wonderful read, I loved it
The best book I've read for a long time.
I loved this book
Compelling layered history of effect of WW2 on a family from unexpected and less visited viewpoints; beautifully perceived and written.
Sue Eckstein's style is spare and down to earth, allowing the ideas to soar. Her characters could be sitting in the living room with you. I couldn't put this book down and it had a profound impact on me.
A wonderful haunting book about the impacts of war, not just on those directly affected, but those around them and down the generations that follow. A sensitive exploration of the secrets that such trauma engenders within families.
Amazing and thought-provoking.
It's glorious. I loved it and it was the first book ever that every member of my diverse book group also loved.