“A World Elsewhere is a literary masterpiece, fully realized, and a perfect work of art, a daughter’s eloquent monument to her courageous mother. It is also a reminder that war spares no one but wounds everyone it touches.”
– EDMUND WHITE, author of INSIDE A PEARL
Late in her life, Sigrid MacRae’s mother, Aimée, gave her daughter a box of letters that remained unopened until after her mother’s death nearly a decade later. The letter illuminated Aimée’s love affair with Heinrich, the father Sigrid never knew: a superbly handsome but penniless baron whose Baltic German family had lost everything in their flight from the Bolsheviks. Meeting in Paris in 1927, Aimée and Heinrich fall in love and marry. But the harsh reality of post-World War I Germany is inescapable: a bleak economy and the rise of Hitler quash Heinrich’s diplomatic ambitions.
To escape the political chaos, Aimée and Heinrich buy a large farm north of Berlin, hoping to recreate for their own children the idyllic life Heinrich had known as a child in Russia. When war breaks out, Heinrich is sent to France, then volunteers for the Russian front. With Hitler’s declaration of war on the United Sates, Aimée, now an enemy alien, is left to fend for herself, her six children, and an increasing number of friends, family, and refugees seeking shelter at their farm. In April 1945, with the Russians advancing, she is forced to abandon her home and begin a desperate journey to save them all.
In recounting her mother’s remarkable story and delving into her father’s complex heritage, Sigrid MacRae reveals how the sweep of history affects individual lives and gives us a memoir that is as haunting and poignant as any novel.