Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Reader - book review

The Reader
by Bernhard Schlink

This book is really left field for me - way off my normal reading territory, but Belle had just finished and was curious about my views.

This is no new publication, first released in German and then translated and published in the UK in 1998, buts its new to me. Its a most unusual Holocaust novel which starts with a classic coming of age "The Graduate / Mrs Robinson" tale of an adolescent boy and a much older woman. Nothing unusual there.

But then the big twist - Hanna the lady in question disappears only to re-emerge on trial for war crimes. The tale is narrated by the boy / man who studies law and becomes obsessed by the trial, and the motivation which causes Hanna to take the fall for a crime which she was not solely responsible.

Its an absorbing insight into the levels of complicity in the holocaust and it makes you wonder what you would do in that situation, following orders with no real idea if the bigger picture.

The narrator read to Hanna as part of their relationship, and this continued on tape after the trial for the duration of her incarceration coming to a dramatic and very sad conclusion.

I will say no more about the plot. Its a short but deep little book, a mere 200 pages long and readable in a day - and well worth the investment of you time.

The tale will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

10:10 on the Captain's scale.

ISBN 978-0-7538-0470-4

1 comment:

Adam said...

Good film, too.