The protagonists are publicists and behind the scenes operators and their wives, many who have married or worked their way upwards, and whose working class backgrounds and wartime experiences are explored. Those they work with include government ministers, old aristocrats, rehabilitated and reinvented Nazis, and bankers. Their crimes, infidelities and impieties are openly discussed, but never allowed to become public, to endanger their grip on power. One wife has been placed in a very comfortable riverside asylum after speaking out a little too openly. One son has dropped out but doesn't threaten the establishment — except perhaps by destroying the grand pianos of prominent bankers.
The setting is intimately German, with the Nazi past a lurking presence and the dark side of the post-war economic boom set in its social context, but the core ideas are universal. Women in a River Landscape is a study in the corruptions of power and their links to money and class and religion, a novel about individuals trapped by forces beyond their control.
Note: Women in a River Landscape was originally published in 1985 as Frauen vor Flusslandschaft.