Monday, November 28, 2011

Bernhard Schlink - The Reader

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.
When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover--then she inexplicably disappears.
When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

Comment: I've read this book because of a book club I'm included in. This month this was the book chosen and to be honest I wasn't very eager to read it because I've heard about the story and it didn't appeal to me.
The one thing that gave me some hope that I'd read it fast is that the book is small. It doesn't have many pages and the space between sentences isn't the minimum.
The story, well... it bothered mea bit that the age difference was so big, it seems almost improbable that at that time a woman would risk something like that with such a younger boy.
Then there's the time when the story hapens, the post war, all those references to the nazis..I think this was the most interesting part of the book, to see a german talk about those times and what it meant to live with guilt and doubts about actions done in the nazi concentration camps. I found that part of the story interesting abut also the strongest point.
I also think the relationship between the two main characters didn't have to be sexual in order to accomplish the same result. I mean, in the end we understand a bit why Hanna, the main female protagonist, behaved the way she did but if we didn't see the sexual part we'd realize the same and to be honest the book wouldn't have the same the feeling, it would be as hard but not as unconsequential as it made it look like.
The end of the book was a surprise, not the main character's reasons exactly, but her actions. I was left with the doubt if it was shame or emptiness that led her to her choice.
It's a nice read but it wasn't amazing to me, I confess I don't understand all the acclamation over it. It's nicely writen and presented but that's it, for me.

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