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Soon to be a major motion picture starring Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer, Lily James, and Jai Courtney.

The Exception (originally published as The Kaiser’s Last Kiss), is a “crisp, adroit, and subtle tale of great personal power” (The New York Times), which follows the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm, the young Nazi officer assigned to guard him, and the Jewish maid who unwittingly comes between them.

It is 1940 and the exiled monarch Kaiser Wilhelm is living in his Dutch chateau, Huis Doorn. The old German king spends his days chopping logs and musing on what might have been.

When the Nazis invade Holland, the Kaiser’s staff is replaced by SS guards, led by young and recently commissioned SS officer Martin Krebbs, and an unlikely relationship develops between the king and his keeper. While they agree on the rightfulness of German expansion and on holding the nation’s Jewish population accountable for all ills, they disagree on the solutions.

But when Krebbs becomes attracted to Akki, a Jewish maid in the house, he begins to question his belief in Nazism. As the threads of history conspire with the recklessness of the heart, The Kaiser, Untersturmfuhrer Krebbs, and the mysterious Akki find themselves increasingly conflicted and gravely at risk…

Photograph © Colin Bell

Alan Judd is the author of eleven novels and two biographies. He previously served as a soldier in the British army and as a diplomat in the Foreign Office. Judd is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has won numerous awards including the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Heinemann Award. He currently writes for The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph. He lives in Sussex with his family.

“Those who avail themselves of The Kaiser’s Last Kiss will relish its crisp, adroit and subtle tale of great personal power. . . . [with] sufficient ambitions and conflicts to carry [this] masterly short novel to a satisfying end. History is a tease and a provocation to good storytelling and mythmaking, and The Kaiser’s Last Kiss, with both its historicities and inventions, celebrates that fact.”  

– Thomas Keneally, New York Times Book Review

"Alan Judd brilliantly illuminates the tension that can rack those who must choose between conflicting loyalties, not to mention the anguish that comes with the burden of guarding the most vital of secrets."

– James Naughtie, The Wall Street Journal

"[Alan Judd] has an imagination as vibrant as it is intelligent and he makes excellent use of it in this dramatic tale about the German Kaiser Wilhelm II’s last days exiled in Holland, now occupied by Nazi troops. . . . What makes The Kaiser’s Last Kiss acceptable even to the most skeptical reader of such speculative fiction is that it is firmly grounded in reality."

– The Washington Times

"This is a story that shows us how the nastiest regimes are composed of real people. Judd has taken some unlikely ingredients...and, brilliantly, fashioned them into a touching, poignant story."

– Daily Telegraph (UK)

"A haunting tribute to a near-forgotten figure... Judd has complete command of the subtleties of character, ambition and emotional ambiguity in extreme circumstances-- an unusual and intelligent treatment of the Third Reich."

– Evening Standard (Book of the Year)

"Judd's engrossing tale, rooted in actuality, teases out the mixed responses that can exist between, and within, people."

– Sunday Times UK (Book of the Year)

"A fascinating and imaginative exploration of a seminal episode of 20th-century history."

– Irish Examiner

"Fascinating...if one of the hallmarks of a good novel is that the characters do not remain static but are subtly transformed by events, then this is a very good novel indeed."

– Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"A highly accomplished novel [with an] intricate and superbly crafted plot. In a small compass, Judd manages to bring home the reality of the war with remarkable vividness. There is not a spare word here. If you start, you'll finish."

– The Spectator

“Alan Judd has written a quite superb account about a vital point in world history, touched by all those issues common to us all: love, sex, doubt, courage, weakness and loyalty. What does a good man do when he finds that he is sworn to do evil? The Kaiser's Last Kiss is an extraordinarily fine book, rich in wisdom, and blessed with sparkling historical erudition."

– The Irish Times

A page-turner. . . . This is a novel that bears reading carefully, savoring the historical detail and the use of tension that Judd employs.

– The Historical Novel Society