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In 1928, shy Heather Rose Armitage lives in Blakeney in Norfolk/England with her sick mother and ill-tempered father. As Heather’s major skill is picking up languages, the cosmopolitan Goldstein family invite her to Berlin for six months to learn German.
In her first few days, she loses all her money. In Berlin she falls madly in love with Adeline Cohen who works for Willi Münzenberg, Berlin’s major publisher, but secretly Stalin’s representative in Germany whose publishing business is only a cover for his political mission. Adeline lends Heather Rose money and in return, Heather Rose agrees to be Adeline’s secret messenger.
Meanwhile Heather Rose is introduced to the city’s cultural life. Though she is too much in love to refuse Adeline’s request for more messages to be delivered, young women are being attacked. Are those attacks meant for her? Terrified, but even more frightened of losing Adeline, she agrees to run one last message.
Though this novel is fiction, it is based on life at that time in Berlin.
Berlin in 1928 was a hotbed of art and science, as well as political upheaval and intrigue. The period between 1918 and 1933, known as the ‘Weimar Republic’, bears some resemblance to twenty-first century waves of creativity and discontent.