Sir Michael Moritz is fiddling with his knitted tie, eyes nervously darting this way and that. Contemplating my first question about the effects of his parents being refugees from the Nazis building a new life in Cardiff, he tightens his lips, leans back, crossing and re-crossing his legs, easing the bottoms of his feet out of his well-worn slip-ons so that they swing on his arched toes.
It would be hard to write an original and moving account of the tortured 20th-century history of Germany. But, in The House by the Lake, Thomas Harding succeeds remarkably. His narrative device is a small, wooden house in a village called Gross Glienicke.
All I can do for my family who were lost is to say, I am with you in spirit. I take on myself, as much as I can bear, the terrible despair, suffering, heartbreak and pain that was visited on you. Although it is only a feeble gesture, I stand with you at the moment of death, and create a living link with you. That’s all I can do.”
You find me at a slightly odd time," says Anthony Horowitz, somewhat apologetically. It is the end of the interview and the author of the latest Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, the Alex Rider novels, two recent Sherlock Holmes novels, ITV's Foyle's War and New Blood, a forthcoming BBC 1 spy series, has had a rough week. "A week ago, you would have got a much better interview," says Horowitz.
Late in his short life Joseph Roth deliberately spoiled a pair of trousers which his better-off Viennese fellow-writer Stefan Zweig had bought for him. Loth to accept charity, he died an alcoholic early in 1939.