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Writers Inspiring Change feature review: Tapestries of My Mother's Life

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

“Tapestry Of My Mother’s Life: Stories, Fragments, And Silences, by Malve von Hassell, is a beautifully written account, not only of her mother’s life, but in fact, an incredible look behind the scenes of Hitler’s Nazi regime and the effects it, and World War II, had on the lives of the citizens. Christa, her mother, came of age during the 1930s, growing up into a nightmarish world where Nazi propaganda had reshaped or was changing the very cultural values she knew. And of course when the war hit, the shift was titanic. The author has done an incredible job of putting together the details of a life lived throughout the 1930s and all the way up to Christa’s death in 2009. It was an inspiring life in so many ways, as with so many others who endured the Hitler regime and the war, and moreover, the privations in the wake of that war and the need to rebuild their lives. Christa pressed on to live a colorful and positive life, reinventing herself over and over again. There is much I could say about this book, but one of the things that remains with me as I came to the end, was the haunting imagery that Hassell paints, of a woman who saw and endured so much pain, suffering and brutality before, during and after the war, and who, out of necessity to live and not sink into the maws of that depressive period, locked the pain away, deep inside, and moreover, rarely, if ever, expressed what she felt. One sees a stoic figure in one respect, a brave crusader in another, and a mother who simply wanted to make the best life for herself and her family and refused to admit or even express her own pain, or emotions. This is an excellent book. Every mother should be so privileged to have their stories so beautifully put to words.”

About Malve von Hassell

Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph. D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published several books and journal articles, in particular, The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012), with a new edition published 2020, and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos editions, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. Her most recent releases are Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, 2021), set in Germany in 1645 and 1945. Currently, she is working on a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany.

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