In 1929, at a youth summit in the Weimar Republic, a group of young Americans meet on a remote mountaintop. Their shifting alliances, rivalries and sexual intrigues foreshadow the turmoil and violence that will soon engulf Europe.
Fifteen years later, these men and women are suddenly reunited as one of them discovers an incendiary document from Heinrich Himmler, offering proof of Hitler’s Final Solution. A journey from the confusions of youth into the chaos of war, Another Green World reaches from the last shimmering summer before the Great Depression into the darkest precincts of the twentieth century.
This debut novel from Maine journalist Grant, 54, opens in 1944, as minor Roosevelt administration bureaucrat Martina Panich discovers the existence of a document showing that the Nazis are systematically killing Jews by the millions. Although the Final Solution is not news to the government, a lack of incontrovertible evidence has allowed Allied inaction up to this point (to move on it would have been politically unpopular). Intelligence points to the document's being in the hands of a Pole, Isaac the Fox, whom Martina and her childhood friend, Ingo Miller, met during a youth summit in Germany in 1929 and who has his own reasons for hanging on to it. With Ingo's help, she forms a team of Jewish commandos the Varian Fry Brigade, made up of mostly ordinary people and has them rapidly trained for insertion into Germany, where they are to find Isaac, capture the document and bring it back. Reminiscent at moments of some of the best of the WWII thrillers, Grant's debut gets mired in multiple characters, in repeated plot and time shifts, and in digressions covering naturalism, German poetry, music and the politics of the period. The author intrudes (often addressing the reader in the second person), and even minors characters go off on declamatory tangents. Grant is trying to offer a Herman Wouk style epic, but he never quite gets it off the ground.