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When Time Stopped

A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains

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‘Beautifully told' John Le Carre

‘More than just history’ Michael Palin

‘Truly exceptional’ Jon Snow

‘Absolutely remarkable’ Edmund de Waal

‘Beautifully written’ Stephen D. Smith
 
In this remarkably moving memoir, Ariana Neumann dives into the secrets of her father’s past: years spent hiding in plain sight in wartorn Berlin, the annihilation of dozens of family members in the Holocaust, and the courageous choice to build anew.

‘The darkest shadow is beneath the candle.’

As a child in Venezuela, Ariana Neumann is fascinated by the enigma of her father, who appears to be the epitome of success and strength, but who wakes at night screaming in a language she doesn’t recognise. Then, one day, she finds an old identity document bearing his picture – but someone else’s name.

From a box of papers her father leaves for her when he dies, Ariana meticulously uncovers the extraordinary truth of his escape from Nazi-occupied Prague. She follows him across Europe and reveals his astonishing choice to assume a fake identity and live out the war undercover, spying for the Allies in Berlin – deep in the ‘darkest shadow’. Having known nothing of her father’s past, not even that he was Jewish, Ariana’s detective work also leads to the shocking discovery that a total of twenty-five members of the Neumann family were murdered by the Nazis.

Spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans, When Time Stopped is a powerful and beautifully wrought memoir in which Ariana comes to know the family that has been lost – and, ultimately, her own beloved father.
 
 

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (February 18, 2020)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471179419

“Utterly riveting: Ms. Neumann's memoir reads like a detective novel, as she unravels her late father's complex, agonizing yet inspiring trajectory. Conjuring the lives of her relatives murdered in the Holocaust, she brings their lost world to vivid life.”

—Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs

“Truly exceptional…a work of very great talent.”

—Jon Snow, journalist and Channel 4 television host

The story Neumann uncovers is worthy of fiction with hairpin plot twists, daredevil acts of love and unexpected moments of humor in dark times. Given the slew of colorful characters and dramatic details, she could have turned her painstaking research into a historical novel. Instead she has written a superb family memoir that unfolds its poignant power on multiple levels. Yes, her account of one Jewish-Czech family’s race to outwit the Nazis makes for thrilling reading. But just as important is her lucid investigation of the nature of memory, identity and remembrance.

– The New York Times Book Review

“Ariana Neumann’s story may strike a chord, and rightly so….When Time Stopped is more than just history. It’s a warning.”

—Michael Palin

“Ariana Neumann's beautiful, meticulously researched memoir is an extraordinarily moving story of a family’s lost history, a father’s well-kept secret, and a daughter who pieces it all together with courage, tenacity, and most of all, love.”

—Dani Shapiro, author of InheritanceDevotion, and Still Writing

“I’ve read countless memoirs. I’ve read hundreds of books about the Holocaust and mysteries and detective stories and rigorously researched tomes of history and psychological studies of the effects of trauma. But never in my reading life have I ever come across anything akin to this magical, brilliant, and gripping work of art.”

—Deborah Copaken, author of The Red Book

“Through her painstaking work Neumann takes lifeless fragments ensuring her family's obscurity, and magically brings them back to life in this carefully woven beautifully written tapestry. This is a work of resistance against oblivion, a reminder against forgetting, an investigation driven by true love.” 

—Stephen D. Smith, PhD, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation

“An astonishing family memoir that will imprint itself on your psyche as only the best books can, forever changing the way you look at your own family.  With a mastery of the dogged art of research rarely seen, and with an exquisite narrative sensibility to match, Ariana Neumann has breached the hidden surface of her family’s tumultuous past and brought not only their tragedies and sorrows, but also their joys and loves, to indelible light.”

—John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Red Daughter, The Commoner and Reservation Road

“A love letter to a father who, out of sheer will and determination, did not allow the Nazis to destroy him—and who rose to become one of Venezuela's most successful industrialists.  Part literary memoir, part mystery tale, Ariana Neumann's tribute to her father is a classic story of redemption and love.”

—Janine di Giovanni, author of The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria

“Remarkable…Through painstaking, meticulous research Neumann tells the true story—part memoir, part history—of her heart-wrenching and ultimately life-affirming journey in uncovering her family’s long hidden past.”

—Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

“Beautifully written…One of the most powerful and profoundly moving family stories of the Holocaust to have been published in many years and a must read.”

—Dan Stone, Director of the Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London

“Ariana Neumann has given us a gripping true story…This is nonfiction that reads like a detective thriller.”

—Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of Irena’s Children

“A gripping, heart-wrenching journey back to wartime Prague and Berlin. Ariana Neumann has written the book that her remarkable father simply couldn’t.”

Tom Gross, former Prague and Jerusalem correspondent, Sunday Telegraph

When Time Stopped is a beautifully told story of personal discovery, of almost unimaginable human bravery and sacrifice, and a harrowing portrait of living, dying and surviving under the yoke of Nazism.’

– John Le Carre

‘Ariana Neumann’s story may strike a chord, and rightly so. The slow and pitiless brutality that took hold of much of Europe in the 1930s is a story that can never be told too often. What makes this account so effective is that it’s personal and, because of the dogged extensiveness of her research, Neumann reminds us of the small details that make the Nazi persecution of the Jews all the more chilling.

It’s not always a grim story. Alongside anger and despair there is love and hope. But the message is stark. This is the way bullies work. When Time Stopped is more than just history. It’s a warning.’

– Michael Palin