Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Review: Blue Nude by Elizabeth Rosner

Begin anywhere, Danzig says. The shoulder, the rib cage, the thigh, the ankle. It won't be an accident, even if it feels that way right now. [pg 3]

Blue Nude by Elizabeth Rosner
Gallery Books, 2010 (originally published in 2006)
Fiction; 224 pgs

I have never had the feeling of finishing a book and wanting to start over again right away and read it again cover to cover. Someone wrote that about Blue Nude, and so I set aside my reservations about the book and dived right in. I wanted to love it. I wanted to love the writing and the flow of the story. I wanted to love the characters. I did like Merav quite a bit. I wasn't sold on Danzig. And while that isn't always a problem, it was in this case. I never really connected with him. As the story progressed and more about his past was revealed, I did develop a sympathy for him. Even more so for his sister, Margot, who I came to love.

This is a difficult book to describe. It is at once a novel about two people struggling to reconcile their pasts and find peace within themselves and a novel about World War II, particularly the aftermath of the war and how it touched those who came directly after. Merav's grandmother had been a survivor of the Holocaust, eventually fleeing to Israel where Merav was born andraised. Danzig's father had been a German officer during the war, creating a shadow that would plague Danzig and his sister for the rest of their lives.

Danzig is a painter and art instructor. Merav is a nude model who poses for Danzig's class and awakes in him a spark of inspiration that has long been missing.

The writing was smooth and lyrical. There were several times, especially during Merav's sections when I felt the words roll over and through me, lingering and full of feeling. I also liked the format of the story--the nonlinear narratives and jumping from viewpoint to viewpoint, time period to time period. I was especially drawn to the sections of the book set in the past, particularly Merav's heartbreak and Danzig's own tragic childhood.

The war left behind many scars, as war often does. The Germans were left with much blood on their hands and how does a child reconcile that, once caught up in the fervor of nationalism? Can she? Rosner paints a vivid picture of the inner struggle of one family, while at the same time capturing the ingrained fear and mistrust of a people victimized, tortured and murdered at the hands of Germans. Danzig and Margot's story is directly tied to World War II, however Merav's is more indirectly impacted. It was an interesting juxtaposition.

Unfortunately, I never felt the book came together in a way I could truly appreciate. I know the characters found some of what they were looking for in the end, but I am not quite sure how they got there. I finished the novel feeling like I missed something important.

His gun pulled at his muscles and his knees were locked, but still he didn't make a move to pull the trigger. These people were lower than animals: this was what he'd been taught--that they were nothing to him. But meanwhile, here he was, wishing he could speak her language, whatever it was. Wanting to know her name. Needing all the blood washed from his hands. [pg xii]

Rating: * (Good)

For more information about Elizabeth Rosner and her books, visit the author's website.

Source: Copy of book provided by publisher for review.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I'm sorry this book was a disappointment to you; the premise sounds promising though. Not sure if I'd read this but we shall see. ;)

  2. I have heard really good things about this book, and have been intrigued, but your reaction to it gives me pause. I don't like books that don't feel cohesive, and I think that Blue Nude would bother me in that way. I am going to hold off on grabbing this one and do some more thinking about it. Your review was very clear and thoughtful, and I am going to be keeping some of the things you said in mind. Thanks!

  3. I think I read the review you're referring too. Sorry the book didn't speak to you in the same way.

  4. How disappointing! I'm intrigued by this book too, now I'm wondering how I'll like it.

  5. I love the cover and title but I am not sure about this one.

  6. Sometimes I guess we'll just have to accept the fact that some books will speak "less" to us than the others. I still think you did justice to the book through your review. I would still read it if I come across it.

  7. What a shame this didn't work for you -- you wrote a very thorough and honest review, which is key. The cover is artistically gorgeous and the story sounds interesting -- I still may pick it up...! :)

  8. I don't see me reading this any time soon, and I already renewed it twice. That was causing me a bit of stress because I was excited to get to it. Your post brings me a sense of relief. Now I'll just recheck it out when I'm ready instead of trying to squeeze it in.

  9. Melody - I really liked the historical sections of the book and Merav's story. I think there's a lot here to like. I just wish it'd come together more for me in the end.

    Diane - What I liked about this book, I really did like. From the reviews of it, I seem to be in the minority. I do hope people will give it a try at least.

    Heather - It's gotten quite a few good reviews from other bloggers. I had hoped I would like it more as a result. If you do read it, I would love to know your thoughts on it. You always right such insightful reviews.

  10. Kathy - It's bound to happen now and then. :-)

    Kris - You might like it better than I did, Kris. It did have its good points.

    Stephanie - Isn't that a great cover? It really catches the eye.

  11. Alice - So true, Alice. I wanted so much to like this one more given the subject matter, but, as you said, it didn't speak to me quite the way it has for others who have read it. If you do read it, I'd love to know what you think!

    Natalie - Thank you. There really is a lot to like about this book which is why I still gave it a good rating. I hope you enjoy it when you read it!

    Joy - That sounds like a good plan, Joy! No point putting pressure on yourself to read it until you have the time. I look forward to hearing what you think when you are able to get to it.

  12. Sorry you were underwhelmed. This sounds like a book I should check out, though, given my interest in WWII. I'll get a link to your review on War Through the Generations soon.

  13. Anna - I think it's definitely worth reading, especially because of the WWII link. And thanks for linking my review on the Challenge site!


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