Betrayal is a big part of Interpreters. On the one hand a mother believes she has been betrayed by her own child and brother, and on the other a woman recounts the betrayal of a country and its regime; leaving scars so deep and dark that the reader will question just how far one human will go to inflict both physical and psychological torture on the body and mind of another.
In childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking out. In memories of childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking in - Robert Brault
Julia Rosenthal is a middle-aged woman questioning both herself as a woman and a mother.
Her only daughter Susanna chose to leave her mother's side and move from Africa to England to be brought up by her uncle, Max.
Julia spends a day retracing her childhood haunts and memories to try and answer the questions that haunt her waking moments and dreams.
Her brother Max is very much a free spirit, a man who is seemingly free of the shackles of the prejudice. He lives a communal life and judges newcomers not by their past, looks or religion. Max lives in the moment.
Childhood: the period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth - two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age. - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911
So when Susanna makes the choice to leave her mother and live with Max, he sees it not as a betrayal of his sister, but that Julia, as a mother, had succeeded in raising a young girl to be both independent of spirit and mind.
Julia then retraces her past via a chance return to her childhood home. As she wanders from room, so she recounts the many twists and turns of her formative years.
Meanwhile, in another time and place, a woman is persuaded to unravel her early years as a child growing up in wartime Germany.
The secrets she discloses are both disturbing and haunting. They touch on universal themes, and give a voice to the many who perished in the war, and the many silent secrets those who survived carried with them to their deathbeds.
Sue Eckstein writes with an authority that reads more like a work of fact than fiction.
Through her writing of radio plays Sue has learnt to heavily edit her work. There are no flabby unwanted bits hanging from the body of Interpreters.
She also claims to be happiest writing on retreats. Interpreters is therefore a book created in solitude and best read in silence. But you won"t be alone as the characters are so strong and rounded that they will stay with you for years to come.
Sue Eckstein's Interpreters (Myriad Editions) is available for purchase now. See www.myriadeditions.com/interpreters for more details.