Written by Peter Behrens
Publication Date February 04, 2017
A 2017 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature Finalist
A 2016 Jewish Book Award Finalist
Billy Lange is born in 1909 on the Isle of Wight, England, where his father is the skipper of a racing yacht belonging to a wealthy German-Jewish baron. As a child, Billy is entranced by the baron’s daughter, the elusive and willful Karin von Weinbrenner. After the First World War, Karin and Billy are reunited on the baron’s Frankfurt estate, where they bond over their fascination with the Wild West novels of Karl May, the most popular author in the German language.
Over the years, Billy and Karin’s childhood friendship deepens and transforms into a complex love affair with extraordinarily high stakes. Coming of age in Frankfurt and Berlin, Billy and Karin share a passion for speed, jazz, and nightclubs. As society loses its moral bearings and Germany marches toward the Second World War, they also share a dream of escape — from Germany, from history — to El Llano Estacado, May’s richly imagined New Mexico landscape.
An intriguing cast of characters braid this harrowing story together, transporting the reader from a golden Edwardian summer on the Isle of Wight, to London under Zeppelin attack, to Ireland on the brink of its War of Independence, and at last to Germany during the darkening Weimar period.
Brilliantly conceived, deeply researched, and profoundly moving, Carry Me is an unusual love story, an historical epic, and a lucid meditation on Europe’s violent twentieth century.
Short-listed for the National Jewish Book Awards 2016
Short-listed for the The Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature 2017
Peter Behrens’s first novel, The Law of Dreams, won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and has been published in nine languages. His collection of short stories, Travelling Light, was reissued in 2013. The New York Times called his second novel, The O’Briens (2011), "a major achievement." Carry Me, his third novel, appeared in 2016. His stories and essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, Tin House, Brick, Best Canadian Stories, Best Canadian Essays and many anthologies. Behrens is a native of Montreal and was educated at Lower Canada College, Concordia University, and McGill. He has held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University and was a 2015-16 Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
"With stunning imagery and fully realized characters, Peter Behrens’ third novel is a worthy followup to The O’Briens (2012) and his critically acclaimed first novel, Law of Dreams (2006)… Timely in its depiction of North America as the mythical land of hope for so many, and timeless in its exploration of the effects of bigotry and the power of love, Carry Me is a brilliant and entertaining read." Winnipeg Free Press
"a powerful tale…the tension and the expertly drawn portrait of Europe at war make this novel a winner." Now Toronto Magazine
"There’s no doubt about Behrens’ talent.." Kirkus
"eventful…impressive use of the past as a mirror to the world we live in now" Quill & Quire
"historical epic with a side of romance, ideal for cold winter months." Post City Magazine
"The love story is unusual but framed in realism worthy of a detailed period piece; Peter Behrens thorough research is evidenced throughout. The writing is beautiful and epic in it proportions, deftly capturing a time of violence and perseverance in the path of adversity." Sukasa Reads
"…staggeringly epic new novel about love and loss, identity and salvation in a society in the midst of a nervous collapse. It has been a long time since I’ve become tearful at the end of a novel but I must confess to doing so reading the final pages. The fate that befalls the young lovers at the centre of Carry Me is heartbreaking — and mesmerizing." Toronto Star
"It’s a gripping story about a harrowing time in European history… Behrens is a gifted storyteller and Carry Me is no exception. It is not only a deeply researched historical novel, but it’s also a well-crafted and true tale of people, families and love affairs." Vancouver Sun
"Behrens is a powerful stylist" Globe and Mail
"CARRY ME is another meditation on history and destiny . . . that make[s] the past feel stunningly close at hand." Vogue Magazine
"Behrens is so fine at both sweeping and granular evocations of history, so good at vividly and economically painting his minor players…[his] prose thrills to the indelible and irrevocable." Washington Post
"Beautifully composed, and heartbreakingly credible." Shelf Awareness
"Behrens captures his narrator’s naïveté and the casual anti-Semitism of the times with great skill and intelligence . . . as true an observation about human nature as there is" New York Times Book Review
"a compelling narrative….Carry Me is consistently credible and highly readable throughout." National Post
"…a lush, beautifully crafted story. Behrens stunningly, though dolefully, reminds us with a clarity, artistry and poignant punch demonstrated by few writers, that despite the innumerable ways in which love anchors and sustains life, it cannot always keep those whom we love from harm’s way" Canadian Jewish News
"Behrens, taking the bare bones of his father’s life and melding it into epic fiction, covers historical ground we might think already well represented but finds new ways into it through the depth of his characters, the strength of his storytelling, and the poetic touch of his prose; Carry Me is a moving meditation on identity and belonging, and a love story to get happily lost in." Montreal Gazette
"a brilliant novel of exile and history both personal & national" CBC Homerun
"Behrens is a master, at home in the broad sweep of history and the intimate detail of a character’s experience. This is a novel that could be, should be, read in a hundred years." Jury, The Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature