Book excerpt: “The Wind Knows My Name” by Isabel Allende


Ballantine Books

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New York Times bestselling writer Isabel Allende is famend for such traditional works of fiction as “The House of the Spirits,” “Eva Luna” and “A Long Petal of the Sea.” The Chilean-born author’s newest novel, “The Wind Knows My Name” (Ballantine Books), attracts parallels between Jewish kids despatched to security by their households throughout World War II, and Latin American kids separated from their dad and mom whereas making an attempt to cross into the United States.

Read the excerpt beneath, and do not miss Rita Braver’s interview with Isabel Allende on “CBS News Sunday Morning” May 28!

“The Wind Knows My Name” by Isabel Allende

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The Adlers

Vienna, November 1938

A way of misfortune hung within the air. From the early morning hours, a menacing breeze had swept by way of the streets, whistling between the buildings, forcing its approach in by way of the cracks below doorways and home windows.

“Just winter settling in,” Rudolph Adler murmured to himself in an try and lighten his temper. But he could not blame the climate for the tightness in his chest, which he’d felt for a number of months now.

The stench of concern, like rust and rotting rubbish, clung to his nostrils; neither his pipe tobacco nor his citrus-scented aftershave lotion may masks it. That afternoon, the stink of dread stirred up by the wind was suffocating, making him really feel dizzy and nauseous. He determined to show away the sufferers left in his ready room and shut up early. Surprised, his assistant requested if he was sick. She’d labored with the physician for eleven years and had by no means identified him to shirk his duties; he was a punctual, methodical man.

“Nothing serious, only a cold, Frau Goldberg. I’ll go home and rest,” he answered.

They tidied the workplace and disinfected the devices, then stated goodbye on the door as they did each night, neither suspecting that they’d by no means see one another once more. Frau Goldberg headed to the streetcar cease and Rudolph Adler walked the few blocks to the pharmacy at his ordinary brisk tempo, hat in a single hand and physician’s bag within the different, his shoulders hunched. The sidewalk was damp and the sky cloudy; it had been drizzly and he predicted they’d quickly see a type of autumn rainstorms that at all times caught him unawares, with out an umbrella. He’d walked these streets a thousand occasions and knew them by reminiscence, however he by no means stopped admiring his metropolis, one of many prettiest locations on this planet with its Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings coexisting harmoniously, the majestic timber that had begun dropping their leaves, the equestrian statue within the neighborhood sq., the bakery’s window show with its unfold of delicate pastries, and the antiques store full of curiosities. But that afternoon he barely raised his eyes from the pavement. He had the burden of the world on his shoulders.

The troubling rumors had begun that morning with information of an assault in Paris: a German diplomat shot 5 occasions and killed by a younger man, a Polish Jew. Spokespersons for the Third Reich known as for revenge.

Since that March, when Germany had annexed Austria and the Nazi Wehrmacht paraded its army pomp and circumstance by way of the center of Vienna to a cheering, jubilant crowd, Rudolph Adler had been plagued with concern. His worries had begun a couple of years prior and solely worsened as Nazi energy was consolidated by way of elevated financing and a rising stockpile of weapons. Hitler used terror as a political tactic, benefiting from discontent over financial woes after the humiliating defeat within the Great War and the Great Depression in 1929. In 1934, Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated in a failed authorities coup, and since then eight hundred others had been killed in numerous assaults. The Nazis intimidated their detractors, provoked disturbance, and pushed Austria to the brink of civil conflict. At the beginning of 1938, inside violence was so untenable that Germany, from the opposite aspect of the border, exerted stress to annex the troubled nation as certainly one of its provinces. Despite the concessions that the Austrian authorities had made to German calls for, Hitler ordered an invasion. The Nazi social gathering had laid the groundwork for the invading power to be met with open arms by nearly all of the inhabitants. The Austrian authorities surrendered and two days later Hitler himself entered Vienna, triumphant. The Nazis shortly seized complete management. Opposition was declared unlawful. German legal guidelines and SS and Gestapo oppression, in addition to antisemitic insurance policies, went into rapid impact.

Rudolph’s spouse, Rachel, who had at all times been rational and sensible, with out the slightest tendency towards catastrophic pondering, was now virtually paralyzed with nervousness and solely functioned with the assistance of remedy. They each tried to maintain their son, Samuel, at nighttime about what was taking place, to guard his innocence, however the boy, who was about to show six, had the maturity of an grownup; he noticed, listened, and understood with out asking questions. Rudolph had initially prescribed his spouse the tranquilizers he used to deal with anxious sufferers, however after they appeared to haven’t any impact, he turned to different, extra highly effective drops, which he obtained in opaque unmarked bottles. He may’ve used the sedatives as a lot as his spouse, however he wouldn’t threat jeopardizing his skilled acumen.

The drops have been supplied to him in secret by Peter Steiner, a pharmacist and buddy of a few years. Adler was the one physician Steiner trusted together with his family’s well being, and no authorities decree forbidding interplay between Aryans and Jews may change the respect that they had for one another. In current months, nevertheless, Steiner had been pressured to keep away from Adler in public, since he could not afford any hassle with the neighborhood Nazi committee. In the previous, they’d performed 1000’s of video games of poker and chess, exchanged books and newspapers, and brought common mountain climbing and fishing journeys collectively to flee their wives, as they stated jokingly, and in Steiner’s case to flee from his horde of youngsters. Now Adler now not participated within the poker video games within the again room of Steiner’s pharmacy. The pharmacist met Adler on the again door of his store and supplied the remedy for Rachel with out registering it on the books.

Before the annexation, Peter Steiner had by no means questioned Adler’s roots and thought of the physician to be simply as Austrian as he was. He knew the household was Jewish, as have been 190,000 different Austrian residents, however that meant nothing to him. He was agnostic; the Christianity he ‘d been raised with appeared to him as irrational as all different religions, and he knew that Rudolph Adler felt the identical approach, although he upheld some Jewish customs out of respect for his spouse. Rachel felt it was vital that their son be raised within the Jewish group and traditions. On Friday evenings, the Steiners have been usually invited to Shabbat on the Adler residence. Rachel and Leah, her sister-in-law, spared no element: the perfect desk linens, new candles, the fish recipe that had been handed down from a grandmother, contemporary loaves of bread, and ample wine. Rachel was near Leah, who had been widowed younger and had no kids. Leah was dedicated to her brother Rudolph’s small household, and though Rachel begged the girl to maneuver in with them, she insisted on dwelling alone, visiting usually. Leah was sociable and took part in numerous packages on the synagogue to assist the neediest members of the group. Rudolph was the one brother she had left, because the youngest had emigrated to a kibbutz in Palestine, and Samuel was her solely nephew. Rudolph presided over the Shabbat prayer, as was anticipated of him as head of family. With his arms on Samuel’s head, he requested God to bless and shield him, to grant him grace and peace. On multiple event Rachel caught a wink exchanged between her husband and Peter Steiner after the prayer, however she let it slide, realizing it wasn’t meant in mockery however merely a gesture of complicity between two nonbelievers.

The Adlers belonged to the secular and educated center class that characterised Viennese society basically and Jewish society particularly. Rudolph had defined to Peter that for hundreds of years his individuals had been discriminated in opposition to, persecuted, and expelled from many lands, which was why they valued training over materials wealth. They might be robbed of their belongings, as had occurred repeatedly all through historical past, however nobody may take away their mental belongings. The title of physician was extra extremely prized than a fortune within the financial institution. Rudolph got here from a household of craftsmen, proud to rely a doctor amongst them. The occupation afforded him status and authority, although in his case it certainly didn’t translate to materials wealth. Rudolph Adler was not a sought-after surgeon or a professor on the storied University of Vienna, however a household doctor, hard-working and beneficiant, who handled greater than half of his sufferers totally free.

Excerpted from “The Wind Knows My Name” by Isabel Allende. Copyright © 2023 by Isabel Allende. All rights reserved. No a part of this excerpt could also be reproduced or reprinted with out permission in writing from the writer.

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