February 1, 2013

Former Times reporter speaks on WWII novel

Former New York Times investigative reporter Leslie Maitland (A.B. ’71) discussed her novel Crossing the Borders of Time at the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore Tuesday evening.

The novel is based on the true story of Maitland’s German-Jewish mother falling in love with a young Catholic Frenchman during her journey to escape Nazi Europe. Though the couple vowed to marry, her mother fled to Cuba and never saw the Frenchman again.

Although it embraces the love story as a central aspect, Maitland explained that the novel is significantly factual.

“The context of the period informed the love story. I couldn’t imagine separating one from the other,” she said.

In order to fulfill her goal of making the book as factually accurate as possible, Maitland conducted extensive research. She referred to the process as an “archeology of love.”

Throughout her ten-year writing process, she travelled to every location her mother visited while escaping the Nazis, including Freiburg, Germany and several cities in France and Cuba.

She credited UChicago for instilling the research skills she used to write the novel.

“Never make assumptions: Check everything,” she said.

The talk was co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Sem Co-Op.