Book Q&A with Deborah Kalb

September 20, 2021

Book blogger Deborah Kalb got me talking about personal questions I pursued as I wrote, such as:

  1.  Before World War I in the Austria-Hungarian Empire, young Irma thought “life was getting better every day in every way”. Yet she experienced two world wars. To what extent was her youthful view justified?Irma had an education way beyond what was normal for girls. How did it shape her identity and her life?
  2. Some characterize the decades before Hitler came to power in 1933 as a time of rising anti-Semitism. Yet few Austrians left before the annexation crisis. Does Irma’s experience in Bohemia and Vienna provide insight or perspective on that era’s anti-Semitism?
  3. To what extent/how would you say being Jewish shapes Irma’s identity before Hitler? After?
  4. For many people, Zionism brings Israel and current political controversies to mind. To what extent did you learn something new about the early years of Zionism?
  5. Did you learn anything new about how World War I and World War II came about?
  6. How did you react to reading about Adolph Eichmann’s role in Jakob and Irma’s life?
  7. What did you think of Irma’s network of activist women like Erna Patak in Vienna and Vera Weizman in London?  How would you characterize their role in women’s history? What was Irma’s contribution?
  8. To what extent did you note parallels between the history of then and now?
  9. What was your reaction to the passage on page 180 about pride? Can pride be an asset?
  10. What was your reaction to the author’s discovery of diamond earrings after her father, Paul’s death?
  11. Why do you think Irma told the Buddhist monk that she would not want to be reincarnated into another life?

Read the whole interview ›