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LITTLE EDEN A Child at War by Eva Figes (Persea Books, New York: $8.95)

September 25, 1988|ELENA BRUNET

On the eve of World War II, 7-year-old Eva, along with her parents and 4-year-old brother, flee their native Germany for Great Britain. "Immigrant procedures had been very strict," she writes four decades later. Her father participates in the war effort as a private in the Pioneer Corps, the only post available to "enemy aliens." The English respond at times with hostility toward what they see as "the invasion of evacuees."

In order to escape air raids aimed at London, her mother moves the children to a small boarding school in Cirencester (near Gloucester)--the title's "Little Eden." The 15 months spent there (1940-41) are the focus of Eva Figes' reminiscences. Eva is on her own at this school, "finding out about myself, my feelings, my sensibilities." She also learns, for the first time, what it means to be Jewish.

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