I stumbled across Alles ist Jazz (All is Jazz – tho, I do not believe this book was translated to English) on @Themis-Athena’s post where @What I am reading had suggested Lili Gruen as an Austrian author to look up.
What can I say, this is why I love bookish sites and other readers…the best recommendations come from other readers, not advertising campaigns.
Alles ist Jazz is the story of Elli, a young Viennese actress, who moved to Berlin at around 1930 to start a career in theatre or film, or any other acting job that pays the rent and lets her live her dream. Unfortunately, the reality of being an artist … or anything else … in the wake of a global economic crisis is not conducive to Elli’s aspirations. We watch her struggle to find work, find love, and find herself as everything around her seems disappointingly transient.
At times when reading this book, I was tempted to regard the book as chick lit, because of Elli’s obsession with finding a man … and her endless descriptions of being in love with the fair Robert … but then Gruen would throw something in Elli’s path to make her sit up and consider the world around her more closely, even tho this usually would knock off even more of the rosy tint of Elli’s glasses and create even more sadness than the economic struggles Elli and her friends are going through already.
By the end, Elli has grown up quite a bit and there is far more depth to her and her friends than seems possible at the start.
What a lovely insight into the minds of the Bright Young Things of Berlin.
I look forward to discovering Gruen’s other books.