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Patient Number 7 [Hardcover]

Kurt Palka
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 27 2012
Inspired by a true story and based on a wealth of family documents, this elegant and compelling novel chronicles the lives of two families from the 1930s through the coming of the Nazis and World War II, and the long, difficult post-War period to the present. A must-read for fans of Irene Nemirovsky, Hans Fallada, and Bernhard Schlink's The Reader.
This vividly realized, masterfully executed novel is a window into a little-explored corner of history. Patient Number 7 is a story of love between an aristocratic young woman and the cavalry officer -- later Panzer officer in the German army -- she marries; between friends who help each other through the Nazi takeover of Austria, the war, and what was sometimes worse, the "liberation"; between a mother and her two very different daughters. But it is also the story of a nation's darkest days, and its slow recovery during one of the most convulsive, violent periods of human history. Beautifully written, haunting, and ultimately redemptive, it is a work of great skill and great compassion.

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Finalist for the Hammett Prize 2012
“A compelling story about World War II told from a uniquely Austrian point of view. It provides a discerning look at the Viennese and how they coped during the volatile periods during the 1930s, ‘40s – and post-war years. . . . Palka’s book contains wisdom and elegance. He is a literary tour guide taking us into a post-Habsburg culture we could not access on our own. Clara, despite her dazzling intellectualism, is really an Everywoman who has to figure out how to endure life’s vicissitudes while searching for the elements of joy. We are with her all the way.”
The Toronto Star

“In much the same way as Carol Shields did for Daisy Goodwill Flett in The Stone Diaries, Kurt Palka gives dignity to a life lived in his creation of Clara Herzog, an aristocratic Austrian who falls in love just as her country is swirled into the vortex of events culminating in the Second World War. . . . [An] understated and compassionate historical novel. . . . it provokes questions about what we would have done if we had lived during the Third Reich. . . . Patient Number 7 deals with some of the big themes in literature. But its lasting impression is that of a woman whose life mattered.”
Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author

KURT PALKA was born and educated in Austria. He began his working life in Africa where he wrote for African Mirror and made wildlife films in Kenya and Tanzania. After moving to Canada he worked on international stories for CTV and GLOBALTV, wrote for American and Canadian publications such as the Chronicle Herald and the Globe and Mail, and worked as a Senior Producer for the CBC. Patient Number 7 is his fifth novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Historical Fiction based on Fact May 6 2012
Patient Number 7 is a fascinating glimpse into Austria, pre, post and during World War 11. Author Kurt Palka was born and educated in Austria, and relied on memoirs, personal interviews,letters and his own family history to write this compelling work of fiction. The story was all the more interesting, knowing it was largely based on reality.

The story is told from Clara Herzog's perspective. She is a young, aristocratic woman , attending the University of Vienna in the early 1930's. She is an involved and bright young student, exposed to great thinkers, such a Freud, and and philosopher's Hiedigger and Wigggenstein. It is also a time of political unrest and Clara attends political speeches on National Socialism ( the Nazi's ), Capitalism , Zionism, Existentialism - in her words " Fascinating doors that lured you in and then snapped back shut behind you , and there could never be going back, ever." p.17

Despite her parent's cautions, young Clara falls in love with Albert, a young Austrian Calvary member. When Albert's younger brother, Theodor, is killed because he supported the Nazi's, Albert joins the Panzers. He does this in part to honour his younger brother's beliefs and partially because he is compelled to do so by outside forces.

Clara ends up living on a Nazi base camp, mainly on her own, with her young children, Willa and Emma. Neither Clara nor her husband Albert fully support the Nazi's, and Clara remains good friends with those who are anti -Nazi. Many horrors ensue, but Clara draws upon her own strength to endure. Clara even risks her life as does her husband in acts of heroism .

Truly an enlightening read, as we see the other side of WW 11. We are also witness to the the rather inhumane process of De-Nazification as per the Allied Forces. A thought -provoking and sympathetic look into "the other side" of WW11 - and very human too.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be incredibly slow-moving, dull, and the chemistry between Clara and her boyfriend-then fiancee-then husband was non-existent. Why exactly does she love him? I read three quarters of this book and had to stop. I couldn't take it anymore. It sounds like all the good stuff happens in the last quarter but I just couldn't bother reading the whole thing. The characters failed to engage me. I just couldn't care about them. I felt very detached from Clara and Albert and the plot-line.
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3.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful and personal view of pre-war Austria Nov. 5 2012
By Bever
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Told from the personal point of view of a young woman living in Austria, Patient No. 7 offers revealing insights of how the political ideals of National Socialism drew people in, then held the country captive to the Nazi machine. While personal, the story is told from a factual & intellectual point of view rather than emotional - a fine and appropriate handling of a topic that is already charged with emotion. The book is well-written, and I felt gradually drawn into this woman's life and the those of her family and friends.
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By Great Historicals TOP 100 REVIEWER
Patient Number 7 gives reader a unique glimpse into how World War II impacted Austria. Based on family documents, author Kurt Palka has drilled down into everyday life to demonstrate how all lives were affected by the Nazi Third Reich.

The main character is Clara Herzog, a young woman from a well-to-do family who attends university in Austria. As a philosophy student, she is the student of Sigmund Freud and other notable famous mentors. Against her family's urgings, she falls in love and marries a cavalry officer who soon joins the Panzers in the German army. Left alone, she struggles to raise their two daughters while war rages around them. She faces numerous conflicts ranging from losing her position at the university to Third Reich party members to being raped by a Nazi officer.

Patient Number 7 is about one woman's endurance and the choices she is forced to make for herself and her family. What I found most fascinating was how Nazis slowly infiltrated all businesses, all levels of government, and society in general creating a wave of fear and slowly taking over all aspects of Austrian life. This is a unique, compelling, multi-layered novel about an unforgettable woman!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Sept. 27 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was a nice change to see WWII from the Austrian perspective…well written…enjoyable story...
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