“Anschluss” was regarded by many readers as one of Boyle’s best stories about the effects of the rise of Nazism before World War II. Boyle’s so-called war stories never take place on the battlefield. Instead, she shows how individuals’ lives are touched by the events leading up to and during the larger conflicts. The characters are usually civilians, but some are military personnel caught by Boyle’s observant eye away from the war front.
The heroine of “Anschluss” is a young woman named Merrill who works in Paris as an assistant to a fashion editor. Twice a year, Merrill takes a trip to her favorite vacation place, the village of Brenau in the mountains of Austria. The time is the 1930’s. Boyle draws a sharp contrast between the trivialities of Merrill’s life in Paris and the desperate straits of her two Austrian friends, Fanni and her brother Toni. Because of worldwide Depression, the two young Austrians are struggling to survive in a place where there are only occasional small jobs and little money.
Merrill remembers meeting Fanni on her first visit, two years before, in 1936. Her brother Toni had been arrested for engaging in political activities deemed treasonous. On this night, Fanni is celebrating Toni’s release from jail. His appearance at the guest house marks the beginning of Merrill’s romance, in which she abandons herself to the casual, careless life of the young Austrians, who manage to enjoy themselves...
(The entire section is 569 words.)