Kensington, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Joan Burton
lise Braun grew up in a world of luxury. An only child, she was pampered and given the best by adoring parents. Her mother taught her to play the piano at a young age. Before she reached her teenage years however, her world started to change. Her mother became ill, and though Elise fought desperately to help her get well, she eventually passed away. Tension was high in Berlin as people talked of another world war. Elise's father Herman made a decision that would change her future. For her safety, he decided to send her to her mother's relatives in America. Elise did not want to leave her father alone, for who knew when or if she would ever see him again. The thought of traveling to a new country and living with total strangers was more than she could comprehend. Feeling alone and abandoned, sailing towards the future, Elise realized she would have to trust her father's wisdom.
rriving in America Elise was welcomed into the Muller family. Carl Muller, a minister, lived with his wife Sophie and their five children on a farm in the small community of Brightfield Connecticut. Elise was overwhelmed by the change of culture. Their clean and inviting home was sparsely furnished and lacked hired help for cooking and cleaning. Her English was limited so it was hard to communicate. Living with the Mullers was loud and hectic. As an only child Elise was not used to sibling rivalry. With four boys and one girl, Elise had to establish her position in the family. At times she felt resentment from the Muller children, living in their home and receiving attention from their parents. Elise grew to love learning at the local school but a few children made nasty remarks about her German heritage. Before long, under the guidance of the Mullers and their friends, Elise learned how to cook, clean, and do chores on the farm. Letters from her father were few and distant.
oon war was declared and America was enlisting men to go overseas to fight for their country. Women and children were left to run family businesses and farms. When Carl and Carl Jr. enlisted, Sophie and the children tried to put on a brave front. Elise could not believe that after such a short period of time America felt like home to her. She had learned so much in her new environment. As war waged on, Elise found solace and comfort working with Sophie to support themselves and the children. News from the battle lines brought heartaches for themselves and friends, but time brought healing and family together. To Elise's surprise, her father came to America after the war and once again hard decisions had to be made.
is a beautiful story of love involving strong characters, facing difficult personal decisions.
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