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Colm Tóibín writes:
Until House of Exile, it had been generally accepted that his second wife, Nelly Kröger, was an unfortunate addition to the family, someone who lacked the dignity of Katia Mann and tended to cause trouble in public and in private but had no obvious compensatory virtues. Juers, however, has ingeniously set about rescuing her in this double portrait of Heinrich and Nelly in exile. She emerges as loyal, loving and a lot of fun, someone who did her best under the most difficult circumstances, a woman whose spirit was slowly destroyed under the pressure of poverty and exile. Heinrich met her in 1929, a year before the opening of the film The Blue Angel, based on one of his novels, when he was at the height of his fame, and the year Thomas won the Nobel Prize. Nelly was 31; Heinrich was 58. She worked as a hostess at a bar in Berlin. She ‘moved from table to table, sat with customers or danced with them, all to ensure a steady sale of alcohol, understood political gossip, personal woes, and when to exchange whispers for another round of drinks’.