Drawn together by shared idealism and mutual bookishness, Ilse von Fischer and Renate Bauer form a passionate friendship that will be ripped apart by Germany’s race laws–and a shocking betrayal. Three decades later, struggling East Village artist Ava Fischer receives her estranged mother Ilse’s ashes in the mail—along with a trove of unsent letters to a woman named Renate Bauer. It’s a discovery that will launch Ava onto the gritty streets of 1980’s New York City—and on a collision course with a dark revelation about her mother’s hidden past that will shake her to her very core…Inspired by a true story, Wunderland is an ambitious, multigenerational saga that crosses decades, borders, and warzones.

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Praise for ‘Wunderland’

“Explore[s]…how political movements that incubate on hatred disfigure individuals in ways that peacetime never tests. A powerful, woman-centered book that makes ethical sense of fiction.”
Lilith Magazine
“[A] searing account of life in Nazi Germany…a heartbreaking page-turner.”
People Magazine (Book of the Week pick)
“Wunderland is an epic about friendship and family set against an inherently emotional, dramatic backdrop…[Epstein] tells a story that feels tragic and brutal and true.”
“Engrossing…Moving between decades and continents, Epstein reveals the devastating choices these women make.”
Real Simple, (a “Best Books of 2019” pick)
“Man’s inhumanity to man—and the redemptive power of forgiveness—is on stark and effective display in Epstein’s gripping novel, a devastating tale bound for bestseller lists.”
Publishers Weekly (starred, Book of the Week pick) | full review
“An absorbing exploration of friendship, betrayal, and coming to terms with the past.”
Booklist (starred) | Full Review
“Wunderland offers a wholly original angle to the WWII novel. You’ll read it in one shivered sitting.”
Refinery29 | Full Review
A wealth of history turns Wunderland into a novel that’s both beautiful and devastating.”
BookPage (starred)
“Hard-to-put-down… Epstein does an amazing job of showing how Hitler’s reign changed the German people through the characters of…two close friends.”
Library Journal
“A vividly written and stark chronicle of Nazism and its legacies.”
Kirkus (starred) | Full Review
“Wunderland is a beautiful and haunting and utterly magnificent novel: a wrenching tale of friendship and betrayal in Nazi Germany. It’s also a page-turner that kept me reading until two in the morning one night and three in the morning the next. It’s that good.”
Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant
“THE BEST – or worst – parts of Wunderland concern Kristallnacht. The fictionalized events surrounding this pogrom are more powerful than historical accounts, but are still in sync with what happened during that nightmarish day…an engrossing book with true-to-life characters.”
The Jerusalem Post | Full Review
“Take a fascinating inside look at the twisted world of Nazi Germany in Wunderland, Jennifer Cody Epstein’s wonderful new novel. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, this story of a daughter searching for the truth about her mother’s secret past, tangled up in old secrets and terrible lies, kept me up late turning pages.”
Martha Hall Kelly, author of The Lilac Girls
“Not only an original and searing investigation into the seductive and terrifying world of Hitler’s National Socialist movement and its aftermath, but also a suspenseful and profoundly moving story of love, hate, passion and devotion.”
Joanna Hershon, author of Swimming
“Wunderland is a sweeping, heart-stopping story. Jennifer Cody Epstein has a singular gift for bringing bygone worlds like 1930s Berlin blazingly to life, but lucky for her readers, she digs deeper. This is an unforgettable portrait of friendship and betrayal, mothers and daughters, the political forces beyond our control and the personal histories we can’t shake. A rich, gripping novel.”
Ellen Umansky, author of The Fortunate Ones
“E.L. Doctorow once said, “The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you how it felt.” This is one of those magnificent books that will make you feel everything–– love, loss, betrayal, redemption, and how everyday citizens could be swept up in the manic fervor of Nazi Germany. The unintended parallels to today’s political climate are haunting. Reading this book is like reading tea leaves, foretelling a future we desperately want to avoid.”
Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost
“Through the friendship of two teenaged girls in 1930s Germany, Wunderland depicts, in intimate and chilling detail, how fascism, racism, and xenophobia are made normal and acceptable; how ordinary people, beguiled by the siren call of nationalism, are led willingly into acts of inhumanity–and could be again, if we ignore the lessons of the past. But this novel is more than a history lesson; it’s a heart-in-your-mouth page-turner that leaves you thinking about its characters, and imagining how things might have gone for them in a different world, long afterwards.”
Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound

Reading Group Guide (PDF)