Review: Aimée & Jaguar

Review: Aimée & JaguarAimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943 by Erica Fischer
Published by Alyson Books on October 1, 1998
Genres: History
Pages: 274
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

A unique and tragic love story between two women, set against the Holocaust and brought to life with letters, diaries, documents, and photographs.

The World War II time period is one of my favorites to read about and study, so I was very curious to read this title. While I do not think the author’s writing was very good (quite dry and boring), the story was astounding. In none of my other reading, courses or film watching have I heard a story from a similar lens. The lesbian angle is new of course, but so were all of the details about the Jews who managed to keep living underground (as it were) in Berlin throughout the conflict.

Much of the story, thank goodness, is told in snippets from Aimée’s diary, Jaguar’s poems, letters and interviews with the people who were still alive when this book was being constructed in the early 1990s. The number of primary sources included in the tale is unique, as well.

The epilogue of the book consists of Erica Fischer’s comments on the creation of the book, most of which is a diatribe of Lilly. She does not trust Lilly, the main source for most of the recounted memories, because Lilly apparently knew her story too well and left gaps of time out. I cannot help but wonder if this is why her writing is so stilted and I did not care much for Aimée or Jaguar on a close level; I wanted them to live, of course, but I was not emotionally invested. I think Fischer’s mistrust and judgment came into her writing and storytelling. For all that the cover names this a love story, she has her own opinions about that and it is quite evident.

After the war, Lilly wanted to convert to Judaism and thought of herself as a Jewess, about which Fischer has this to say: “I do not grant her the status of victim. I guard the line that runs between her and Felice, my mother, and myself obdurately, protective of my small piece of identity” (271). I leave this book skeptical of Erica Fischer as a historian, as she seems to biased, in this tale at least. Still, I am happy to have read it, if only for its unique historical perspective.

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