Definitely a 5-star read. This book is about time, durability, existence, perception, memory. A piece of land has existed seemingly forever - a lovely opening chapter describes its emergence during the ages, how it came to be a meadow and a lake up against the edge of a mountain, 24000 years ago. It is part of the local landscape, subject to the clear rules of nature, year in, year out. A mysterious "gardener" helps the local community maintain it, with unvarying protocols (and occasional improvements), just like the unvarying local protocols on marriage, on death, on religion, on life generally. These are described carefully, beautifully, repeatedly. "Nothing" happens - although clearly things must have done, as there are hints of suicides, trysts, childbirths, escapes of one kind or another. Then, the latest owner, having no son to leave it to (but 4 daughters - what's that about?), sells it off in three pieces, and a lot more happens. The rest of the book tells, not always linearly or chronologically, but clearly enough if you read a bit more slowly than usual, the stories of the people who acquire the pieces of land. At first, these are all hopeful stories of life enhancement and expansion, but this is Germany in the 1930's, so soon enough come hyperinflation, the rise of the Nazis, expropriation of Jewish property, the need to hide, to escape or fail to escape, the War, the Holocaust, the Russian occupation, the oppressions of the East German regime, and eventually the fall of the Berlin Wall and the quest for repatriation of ownership. Some people are "winners", some of the time, most are "losers" most of the time. Some lose their homes, their fortunes, their possessions, others lose their families, their lives. The houses and the land live in their memories, events recalled and stories re-told, when they are exiled or dying, or even when they are there. Eventually, all this will end, a short season of madness in a long history of a place. Existence will carry on, bigger than the individuals, although for them, it has been all their time. This is where I wish I was a much better reader and analyst, so I could really tell you what makes this such a special book. It is short, and beautiful, and worth reading more than once.