In the final character profile for Out of Mecklenburg, I’d like to introduce the “dazzling” Eva Schilling, who becomes Manfred von Leiber‘s wife during the course of the novel.
Eva is a world-famous soprano, very beautiful and sixteen years younger than Manfred. Together, however, they make a good couple and their differences seem to complement each other. Eva enjoys the limelight of the stage but craves discretion in her private life.
That said, she brings a touch of glamour to the von Menen household and is full of A-list anecdotes. At a family party held to celebrate Carl’s return from Argentina, she is the centre of attention:
“Eva had so much to say it seemed she would never stop talking. Von Leiber had heard it all before, yet the others found Eva’s spell-binding exploits fascinating, with Al Jolson, Paul Robeson, Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor acclaimed as personal friends, as no doubt they were. Theatre had found a new dimension on the von Menen estate. Whenever Eva halted to take a sip of wine or pick at a morsel of food, everyone waited patiently for the next chapter.”
Her presence brings some light relief in what is a difficult time in 1940s Germany. And it is a two-way street, with Katrina and Jürgen Lanze providing Eva with a moment of pure joy:
“Katrina and Jürgen asked them if they would be godparents to the baby Katrina was expecting in March. Eva, full of emotion, tears of joy trickling down her face, replied without giving the question a thought. ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ she shouted, totally overcome by the surprise.”
Whereas Manfred von Leiber’s fate is uncertain by the end of the novel, Eva safely makes it back to Meersberg. She is not just a figure of glamour but also one of stability, and she will play a key role in the sequel…