On a summer visit to Germany, George, a young medical student at Cambridge, meets Anna von Kleist, whose intellectual force, beauty, and self-assurance smite him full in the heart. It is 1936. Hitler is already in power, and a shift has occurred in Germany that Anna, George, and their friend Werner have not fully grasped. Europe is on the cusp of war when the three find themselves in a painful love triangle that plays between England and Germany. Facing decisions that will forever alter the course of their lives, they must choose and live with the consequences of their choices.
Reviewers have compared Oatley's pure, spare prose with that of A.S. Byatt and Umberto Eco. In Therefore Choose, his intimately rendered characters draw us irrevocably into their quest for meaning, hope, and understanding in a world diving headlong into chaos.
"This well-written, intelligent, and even wise book deals with choice, specifically with the consequences of the choices that we make in life. It also shows the horror felt by those on both sides of the conflict that was the Second World War. The trauma is all here. So is the guilt, of both the victors and the defeated. Oatley is a good writer, and this is a fine book." — Scene
"Unquestionably a literary triumph." — Walrus
"A coming-of-age story quietly and compassionately told. Almost between the lines, the force of history bears down on these characters, as they learn what is possible and impossible in a broken world." — Anne Michaels
"A thoroughly thought-provoking read. Oatley is deft with dialogue — big ideas are channelled seamlessly through the minds of his characters. George, Werner, and Anna's every choice — whether to act, react, or withhold action — is imbued with power." — Steven Galloway
Pub date: April 23, 2010