QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
This haunting, seductive novel is an evocative meditation on love, friendship, and identity as seen through the lens of early German cinema. In this era of uncertainty, despair, and revolt, the world is plunged into war and sent hurtling toward catastrophe and confusion. The 20th century is irrevocably transformed, but a new form of visual expression—the motion picture—comes into its own and revolutionizes the way we see ourselves.
Born at the very moment the 20th century begins, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite is soon sent to a Catholic orphanage after the scandalous murder-suicide of her mother, a cabaret performer. There she forms a friendship with Hanne Schmidt and is led through the devastation of the Great War to the dark and tumultuous period leading up the Second World War. This violent historical backdrop shapes their lives and loves and leads them on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.
Beautifully crafted and startlingly well-researched, this gripping literary novel is every bit as cinematic as the world of film depicted in its pages.
ABOUT BEATRICE COLIN
Beatrice Colin was born in London and raised in Scotland. She has worked as a freelance journalist, writing for publications including The Guardian, and as a playwright, writing radio plays for the BBC. She lives in Glasgow.
Watch one of the films mentioned in the book and examine how some of these cinematic themes are explored in the book.
- The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) is a French silent film of 1928. It features a riveting performance by Renée Jeanne Falconetti, a performance that Pauline Kael said “may be the finest performance ever recorded on film.”
- Metropolis (1927) is a silent film directed by the great Austrian director Fritz Lang. It is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and explores the social clash between workers and oppressive capitalist owners.