The Tiergarten Tales

Fiction - LGBTQ
266 Pages
Reviewed on 10/04/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

Forbidden love features prominently in Paolo G. Grossi's The Tiergarten Tales. Take a journey along the streets of Berlin when it was the heart of the great Prussian empire and feel the pulse of the men who longed for companionship of a similar kind but could not afford to be publicly identified for fear of reprisal. These short stories span an exciting period in the history of a great nation and the various characters who played roles in the metamorphosis of persecuted people. William and Karl are fortunate enough to live in an era of acceptance but Kasper and Lars have no option but to contemplate fleeing the incoming National Socialist wave that overtook the nation. Dead men tell no tales but blind men keep interesting secrets as Daniel will eventually discover.

The Tiergarten Tales is an interesting work of fiction by Paolo G. Grossi. The characters are well developed as their backstories dovetail neatly into each plot, remaining within the original storyline. What impressed me the most with the novel is the way Grossi arranges the stories as if he is taking you back in time from the present day to well over a century into the past. If this isn't enough, the stories seamlessly interconnect so that you could be forgiven for thinking you are reading a single story. Grossi takes a difficult subject and turns it into written artwork. This is a good book, although the underlying topic may not appeal to everyone. However, the quality of writing is undeniably top-notch.

Alex Ndirangu

Paolo G. Grossi's The Tiergarten Tales features a classy collection of stories told with originality and a style relevant to twenty-first-century readers. This collection takes you to the vast city of Berlin in post-World War II Germany, where many people still viewed same-sex relationships as taboo. You will witness a beautiful example of how courage and self-acceptance can be the answer to removing the obstacles that might keep you from enjoying and even appreciating who you truly are, as parents reluctantly learn to accept and appreciate their children and the choices they make.

Paolo G. Grossi's ability to introduce the reader to a new setting while remaining original impressed me. For example, I liked the way he used foreign vocabulary to add an authentic taste to the book. Grossi's setting had a hint of mystery, which he reinforced with unexpected plot twists that will keep any reader hooked from start to finish. My favorite story in the collection was "The Lodger." In this story, we meet Bill, a sophisticated middle-aged man who has moved to Berlin after his ex-boyfriend died. While there, he meets Karl, a wonderful young man who works as a waiter at a bistro. Karl is a lively person, and they quickly get along. Karl is a college student who dislikes living in dorms and Bill offers Karl a room in his fancy house. Despite their age gap, their slow-burning affection and connection will be endearing. The Tiergarten Tales is cleverly written, the plots were all interesting, and the author did an excellent job. I look forward to reading more of his work.

Sheena Monnin

The Tiergarten Tales by Paolo G. Grossi is captivating from start to finish. The author takes the reader through a series of stories about love, loss, secrets, and living authentically. Each story reveals what life is like for gay men both in the present day and in centuries gone by. The first story opens with a man who recently experienced loss and who meets a surprising new companion with whom he can share his life; if not forever, then for a season. A later chapter in the book tells the story of two older men who meet for a summer on a boat where a familial reconciliation begins. This book is touchingly written and explores themes of love and honesty in deeply moving ways. The reader will be enchanted and will appreciate the freedoms we have today compared to the restrictions of the past, knowing there is still such a long way to go before all people are fully free to live life authentically and without reproach.

The Tiergarten Tales by Paolo G. Grossi is now one of my favorite books! I love the author’s way with words and the beautiful settings he paints in each story. He is gifted in creating uniquely different characters for each tale, and each one feels real. This is not an easy task and the author does it with every account. I appreciate the tact he uses when broaching sensitive topics and the rawness with which he describes emotional pain and loss. This book celebrates love and honors those from the past who bravely lived their authentic lives loving who they wanted and choosing to live honestly, even if society frowned upon it. An excellent read! Excitement, adventure, love, and happiness all in one place!

Melanie Kennedy

The Tiergarten Tales by Paolo G. Grossi is an anthology of heart-rending and romantic stories of multiple men and boys who have loved each other while living in Berlin. The account covers many tumultuous periods in Berlin’s history and explores the love several gay men experienced, but unfortunately had to hide from others for fear of social isolation or legal prosecution. Paolo weaves the stories together, spanning time from the 19th to the 21st centuries. We experience new love and jealousy through Bill and Karl in the age of Netflix, follow a tragic last-ditch attempt to save a man in the last moments of Nazi Germany, and experience young love and its woes between a viola player and a disabled youth. The book also addresses the class divide that many couples face. It is a wonderful story of blooming love, lust, and more importantly, friendship.

Paolo G. Grossi has created an anthology of short but impactful stories of gay couples throughout history. He highlights an essential aspect that a lot of us in the 21st century might think is barbaric – same-sex relationships were illegal in that era. The Tiergarten Tales is a celebration of love during good and bad times, and it shows us that people have always been human and will fall in love no matter what. I enjoyed every tale and my heart goes out to the characters for what they had to endure. Luckily Paolo shows us that even though there is pain and suffering, there is love to be found.

Maria Victoria Beltran

The Tiergarten Tales is a collection of compelling short stories by Paolo G. Grossi. There are nine chapters in this collection, and they explore relationships between various gay male protagonists. The narratives unravel in Berlin at different times in the city’s tumultuous history. The Lodger is set in contemporary times and is perhaps the easiest to read. We get to know Karl and his longing for a loving relationship with an older American retiree. The succeeding tales are about Felix who lived in Prussian Berlin in 1890. He is a son of a wealthy landowner who developed a lasting relationship with their butler, Walther. His story continues at the end of the book. We also get to know Obersturmführer Hocker and the horrors of Nazi Germany in The Typist and there is an informative author's note at the end. This collection of short stories of the boys and men of Berlin will surely grip the reader’s attention.

Paolo G. Grossi’s The Tiergarten Tales focuses on gay relationships from different perspectives and eras, which makes it an absorbing read. The author’s writing style is expository and descriptive but encourages the reader to develop an open mind regarding sexuality. I like the diversity of characters in this collection. The changes in the period setting make it an exceptional and informative read. Paolo G. Grossi weaves a collection of unforgettable stories that explores gay relationships across several centuries. The result is a collection of heartwarming tales that bring into focus the joys and pains of gay men struggling with their identities. This book should help readers understand their world. Highly recommended!