Susanna Moore’s elegant and haunting novel, The Life of Objects, is set in Berlin in 1938. Beatrice, a young Irish Protestant lace maker, has been whisked away from her dreary life to join the household of Felix and Dorthea Metzenburg. Life in Berlin is like a fairy tale—art collectors, and friends to the most fascinating men and women of Europe, the Metzenburgs are part of a world where there is more to desire than she ever imagined.
Unfortunately, Beatrice’s dream life is short-lived, as Germany has launched its campaign of aggression across Europe. While the Metzenburgs do their best to ignore the encroaching war, it isn’t long until until the realities of hunger, illness, and Nazi terror begin to threaten their very existence.
Moore’s beautifully written novel is rich in period details—including the music that Beatrice and the Metzenburgs listen to. Below are recordings of two of the songs mentioned in the book, along with accompanying quotes. To explore more tunes from the book, visit Susanna Moore’s official website.
“Wie Man Sich Bettet” – Performed by Lotte Lenya
“Most nights, however, they listened to dance music. I looked forward to it, the songs going through my head all the following day…. Once, while listening to The Threepenny Opera, music banned by the Nazis, Felix and Dorothea rose with a smile at the start of ‘Wie Man Sich Bettet’ and danced to it.”
“Body and Soul” – Performed by The Benny Goodman Trio
“I’d seen Felix and Dorothea dance, although not the fox-trot (when I’d read about the fox-trot in Ballycarra, I’d imagined that it required dainty mincing steps, curled hands held chest high, wrists limp—another of the many things I had wrong). He went to the gramophone to fit the needle into a groove. It was a recording of ‘Body and Soul’ by Benny Goodman. He held out his hand.”