The Moment

The Moment

A Novel

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Leaving the World comes a tragic love story set in Cold War Berlin.

Thomas Nesbitt is a divorced writer in the midst of a rueful middle age. Living a very private life in Maine, in touch only with his daughter and still trying to recover from the end of a long marriage, his solitude is disrupted one wintry morning by the arrival of a box that is postmarked Berlin. The name on the box—Dussmann—unsettles him completely, for it belongs to the woman with whom he had an intense love affair twenty-six years ago in Berlin at a time when the city was cleaved in two and personal and political allegiances were frequently haunted by the deep shadows of the Cold War.

Refusing initially to confront what he might find in that box, Thomas nevertheless is forced to grapple with a past he has never discussed with any living person and in the process relive those months in Berlin when he discovered, for the first and only time in his life, the full, extraordinary force of true love. But Petra Dussmann, the woman to whom he lost his heart, was not just a refugee from a police state, but also someone who lived with an ongoing sorrow that gradually rewrote both their destinies.

A love story of great epic sweep and immense emotional power, The Moment explores why and how we fall in love—and the way we project on to others that which our hearts so desperately seek.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 544 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451608595 | 
  • November 2011
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Read an Excerpt

ONE

IWAS SERVED WITH divorce papers this morning. I’ve had better starts to the day. And though I knew they were coming, the actual moment when they landed in my hand still threw me. Because their arrival announced: this is the beginning of the end.

I live in a small cottage. It’s located on a back road near the town of Edgecomb, Maine. The cottage is simple: two bedrooms, a study, an open-plan living/kitchen area, whitewashed walls, stained floorboards. I bought it a year ago when I came into some money. My father had just died. Though broke by the time that his heart exploded, he still had an... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Moment includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

INTRODUCTION

Thomas Nesbitt is a recently divorced, middle-aged writer who lives a sequestered life in the hills of Maine. His solitude is disrupted by the arrival of a box postmarked from Berlin. The return address on the box—Dussmann—is the name of the woman with whom he had an intense love affair in Berlin during a time when the city was divided and haunted by the shadows of the Cold War. Initially refusing to confront what he might find in that box, Thomas nevertheless finds himself forced to grapple with his past, and in the process, relive those months in Berlin when two people found love and vowed to escape the tragic landscape of Berlin.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. Thomas Nesbitt tells his daughter “the moment…it’s a very over-rated place.” Do you agree with this statement? How does Thomas’s notion of the moment change over the course of the book?

2. Nesbitt concludes that “everyone has a part of themselves they prefer not to reveal.” What part of himself does he choose not to reveal? I see more

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