The Mark of the Angel

Nancy Huston's novel follows a German woman who ends up in Paris, with deep emotional wounds, after the Second World War.

Nancy Huston

The year is 1957, and the place is Paris, where the psychic wounds of the Second World War have barely begun to heal and the Algerian war is about to escalate. Saffie, an emotionally damaged young German woman, arrives on the doorstep of Raphael, a privileged musician who finds her reserve irresistible. He hires her, and over the next few days seduces her and convinces her to marry him. But when Raphael sends Saffie on an errand to the Jewish ghetto, where she meets a Hungarian instrument maker, each of their lives will be altered in startling and unexpected ways.  As Saffie learns to feel again, her long buried memories coupled with the inexorable flow of historical forces beyond anyone's control, create a tableau of epic tragedy. The Mark of the Angel is a mesmerizing novel of love, betrayal, and the ironies of history. (From Penguin)

From the book

There she is.


Standing there.

Her face very pale. Or to be more accurate — pallid.

She's standing at a door in a shadowy hallway on the third floor of a handsome old house on the Rue de Seine, about to knock. She knocks. Her gestures are vague, preoccupied.

She just arrived in Paris a few days ago — a Paris trembling through raindrops on filthy windows — a gray, foreign, leaden, dripping Paris. The Gare du Nord. Having gotten on the train at Düsseldorf.

Twenty years old.

From The Mark of the Angel by Nancy Huston ©1999. Published by Penguin.