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525 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1994
Staying close to the jetty, she'd streak through the shallow water like a frog, dive to the brown sediment of mud and let it billow around her, wishing her body matched its color so she could let it camouflage her. Here, the river belonged to her. In the water she felt graceful, weightless even, and when she moved her arms and legs, they felt long.
Somehow, this spring was infusing her with new strength and hope, a deceptive hope, she reminded herself, and yet it soothed her, took her back to the river where, in the shallows below the weeping willows, the water had taken on a peculiar shade of opaque green as though it had soaked up the color of the new leaves, a green that suggested tranquility, reverence almost.
It was like that with stories: she could see beneath their surface, know the undercurrents, the whirlpools that could take you down, the hidden clusters of rocks. Stories could blind you, rise around you in a myriad of colors. Every time Trudi took a story and let it stream through her mind from beginning to end, it grew fuller, richer, feeding on her visions of those people the story belonged to until it lefts its bed like the river she loved. And it was then that she'd have to tell the story to someone.
Politics were like history. Only they were happening now. But they were linked to history. Her father had told her about the feudal system, in which people used to get land from lords in return for total allegiance. Like fighting in battles. "We Germans have a history of sacrificing everything for one strong leader," her father had said. "It's our fear of chaos."
"But I worry about the German attraction for one strong leader, one father figure who makes you obey, who is strong enough to make you obey....Who tells you 'This is the right thing to do.' I worry about the belief that our strength is a military strength."