At the end of what is (she cannot help observing) an extraordinary life, Elisabeth Rother has decided to write her memoirs. She recounts her narrow escape with her Jewish husband from the Nazis, and the perilous voyage to the New World of New Jersey, but those, for her, are mere facts of life. For Elisabeth, bighearted and obstinate, the most bothersome and consuming subjects are the unconventional paths and waywardness of her daughter, Renate, and her granddaughter, Irene.
The Empress of Weehawken is a curiously touching love letter to the difficult but sustaining love of mothers and daughters. Written in the voice of the author's very real grandmother, it is "superb . . . razor-sharp, desert-dry, and luxuriantly ironic" (The San Diego Union-Tribune).
"Frau Professor Doktor Rother is stubborn, hypochondriacal, devoid of the slightest sentimentality. . . . She is also, by the way, frighteningly funny. . . . I couldn't get enough of her life story--Irene Dische made me laugh at the shock of it all."--Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil
"An adrenaline-shot of a novel . . . The Empress of Weehawken is sharp as razors on the gradual entrapment of Jews in Germany. It's a classic immigration tale about a family's 'precarious union with America.'"--Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
"This book does a number of things beautifully, even brilliantly. . . . The real grandeur of The Empress of Weehawken, however, lies in the narrator's voice. . . . Frau Rother is drawn as accurately as the slice of a surgeon's scalpel."--Amy Wilentz, Los Angeles Times
"The voice of the reprobate-empress here is pitch-perfect. Dische has captured this fictionalized grandmother . . . with pepper and grace."--Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe