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By Blood

Ullman, Ellen (Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
By Blood
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"San Francisco in the 1970s. Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom. The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets. A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he's distracted by voices from next door--his neighbor is a psychologist, and one of her patients dislikes the hum of the white-noise machine. And so he begins to hear about the patient's troubles with her female lover, her conflicts with her adoptive WASP family, and her quest to track down her birth mother. The professor is not just absorbed but enraptured. And the further he is pulled into the patient's recounting of her dramas--and the most profound questions of her own identity--the more he needs the story to move forward. The patient's questions about her birth family have led her to a Catholic charity that trafficked freshly baptized orphans out of Germany after World War II. But confronted with this new self-- "I have no idea what it means to say 'I'm a Jew'"--The patient finds her search stalled. Armed with the few details he's gleaned, the professor takes up the quest and quickly finds the patient's mother in records from a German displaced-persons camp. But he can't let on that he's been eavesdropping, so he mocks up a reply from an adoption agency the patient has contacted and drops it in the mail. Through the wall, he hears how his dear patient is energized by the news, and so is he. He unearths more clues and invests more and more in this secret, fraught, triangular relationship: himself, the patient, and her therapist, who is herself German. His research leads them deep into the history of displaced-persons camps, of postwar Zionism, and--most troubling of all--of the Nazi Lebensborn program"-- Provided by publisher.
Authors: Ullman, Ellen
Title: By blood
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 378 p. ; 24 cm
Summary: "San Francisco in the 1970s. Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom. The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets. A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he's distracted by voices from next door--his neighbor is a psychologist, and one of her patients dislikes the hum of the white-noise machine. And so he begins to hear about the patient's troubles with her female lover, her conflicts with her adoptive WASP family, and her quest to track down her birth mother. The professor is not just absorbed but enraptured. And the further he is pulled into the patient's recounting of her dramas--and the most profound questions of her own identity--the more he needs the story to move forward. The patient's questions about her birth family have led her to a Catholic charity that trafficked freshly baptized orphans out of Germany after World War II. But confronted with this new self-- "I have no idea what it means to say 'I'm a Jew'"--The patient finds her search stalled. Armed with the few details he's gleaned, the professor takes up the quest and quickly finds the patient's mother in records from a German displaced-persons camp. But he can't let on that he's been eavesdropping, so he mocks up a reply from an adoption agency the patient has contacted and drops it in the mail. Through the wall, he hears how his dear patient is energized by the news, and so is he. He unearths more clues and invests more and more in this secret, fraught, triangular relationship: himself, the patient, and her therapist, who is herself German. His research leads them deep into the history of displaced-persons camps, of postwar Zionism, and--most troubling of all--of the Nazi Lebensborn program"-- Provided by publisher.
ISBN: 0374117551
Branch Call Number: FICTION Ull
Statement of Responsibility: Ellen Ullman
Subject Headings: San Francisco (Calif.) Fiction Triangles (Interpersonal relations) Fiction Identity (Psychology) Fiction College teachers Fiction Adoptees Fiction
Genre/Form: Psychological fiction
Topical Term: Triangles (Interpersonal relations)
Identity (Psychology)
College teachers
Adoptees
LCCN: 2011041626
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San Francisco in the 1970s. Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom. The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets. A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he's distracted by voices from next door... Read More »

San Francisco in the 1970s. Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom. The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets. A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he's distracted by voices from next door...


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In San Francisco in the 1970s, a disgraced college professor has taken a downtown office to await the verdict of an ethics committee and to plot his return. But he's become distracted by his neighbour's psychotherapy sessions with a woman who seems disturbed by her adoption and the possibility that her birth mother was a Holocaust survivor. Once more showing that he doesn't quite know his boundaries, the professor begins researching this stranger's history, sending her information anonymously. All three individuals - the professor, the therapist, and the client - have something to unearth in this brooding, intellectual story.

October 2012 Next Reads newsletter. http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=558348

Aug 21, 2012
  • mccal006 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Completely unnerving. Sometimes slow and hard to read, but definitely worth the slog, especially if you like thriller!

Jun 17, 2012
  • unJoCo rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Well written and interesting story with two storylines--1970s backdrop and 1940s back story.

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