It’s autumn and the landlord of number 13, the only unrenovated house left on Hebelstrasse, has been vacating the building of its tenants for the past two years. 55-year-old janitor Karl Kramer, 72-year-old Elisabeth Buttkies, a retired German teacher, and Marina, a 28-year-old part-time student who calls herself Jersey, are united in being the last of their kind, though they could hardly be more different. The three remaining occupants have made themselves comfortable in their various different ways. The world beyond their door isn’t always a very friendly place, or so they feel, but once they’re in their own separate enclaves they can lick their wounds or tend to their cats. All they want is for everything to stay as it is, suspended in time in a world that never quite existed—and then one day a letter arrives from the new landlord.
Eviction...structural renovation...notice to quit... final.
The fight begins and the reader surprisingly finds himself immersed in the commentary of the one protagonist whose fate is definitely at stake here: the house. The last of their kind face a monumental battle for their fabled slice of heaven; their very identities. The struggle is as irrational as it is bitter, harsh and unforgiving. Suspicion, accusation, slander and libel—they’ll stop at nothing. Barricades are erected, cats are poisoned and wigs torched. A shoulder is fractured, but just when they’re at the point of no return, one of them comes up with a brilliant plan. Contrary to all expectations, the last of their kind do what none of them had ever thought possible—they join forces despite all their differences.
In the end the geraniums are blossoming again, it’s springtime. Three of them are happy and one is dead.
• trenchant, sometimes funny and profoundly moving – a novel about the last tenants of an apartment building that comes with many a surprising twist and turn
• an inanimate object comes to life commenting on the lives of the protagonists - which are not so different from the ones we know