Caterina Pascual Söderbaum

Translated from the Swedish by Frank Perry

Trade paperback - 210x138 - 432pp - £14.99 - 20/09/2018 - 9780857057235

From a starting point of the discovery of photographs in a family album ­- of a grandfather who joined Hitler's army, of her Spanish father dressed in the Francoist uniform - Caterina Pascual Söderbaum explores her connections to the most abhorrent passages of twentieth-century history. Her mother was a cousin of Kristina Söderbaum, a celebrated Swedish film star of the Third Reich, adored by Goebbels.

She travels with husband and child to the shores of idyllic Attersee in Austria, where the officers of extermination camps spent their holidays, and from Schloss Hartheim, where the staff of the Nazi euthanasia programme forgot, with the help of alcohol and sex, the horrors that took place there,  to Villa Saint-Jean, a summer residence where malnourished children from France's internment camps were sent to recover.

An exploration into her own family's disturbing history is fused with vividly captured episodes, and the threads of evil that she lays bare she describes in language so beautiful, so subtle and painterly, that her odyssey is at once shattering and mesmerising.

Elise Williams