“What a sad story, I thought for so long. Not that I now think it was happy. But I think it is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever.”
It’s been 17 days since I’ve finished reading the book and 15 days since I’ve watched the movie and my thoughts still keep returning to this story, analyzing it over and over again and discovering new truths for myself.
First, I thought I would start this review by retelling you the plot, but when I started writing this short plot summary I felt like I was revealing so much about the story already, and it’s just one of those stories, which are the best to read without knowing a thing about them. Okay, may be just to know whether you want to read it you must know that it’s about a 15-year old Michael Berg falling in love with 36-year-old Hanna Schmitz, their romance, how she suddenly disappears without letting him know, Michael meeting Hanna 9 years later in the court, Frankfurt process, concentration camps, Germany after World War II. And the most important, the mystery behind Hanna’s requests to 15-year-old Michael to read out loud to her. This book also states several interesting (almost philosophical) questions, which I’m still thinking about.
I must add that the novel consists of three parts. The first one focuses on their unusual romance. The second part concentrates on the trial. And the last one tells us about after-the-trial events.
Speaking of The Reader movie, – great actors, good music and, most of all, almost no changes of the original plot. I loved it. If you want to ‘feel’ this book, just listen to one of the movie soundtracks – Ludovico Einaudi’s “Primavera”.
This story is very unusual, very beautiful and touching! And the ending..it just surprised me! I’ve got so many scenarios of how it would end in my mind, but not one like this.
There is so much I want to tell about the book, but at the same time, I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you’ve read it, please write me in comments and we will talk about it!
Thank you so much, Bernhard Schlink for writing this great book! I love it!
Several quotes from The Reader, I’d like to share with you:
“Through the long hours of the night you have the Church clock for company and the rumble of the occasional passing car that throws it’s headlights across the walls and ceilings. These are hours without sleep, which is not to say they’re sleepless, because on the contrary, they’re not about lack of anything, they are rich and full. Desires, memories, fears, passions form labyrinths in which we lose and find then lose ourselves again. They are hours where anything is possible, good or bad.”
“Now escape involves not just running away, but arriving somewhere.”
“I wanted simultaneously to understand Hanna’s crime and to condemn it. But it was too terrible for that. When I tried to understand it, I had the feeling I was failing to condemn it as it must be condemned. When I condemned it as it must be condemned, there was no room for understanding. But even as I wanted to understand Hanna, failing to understand her meant betraying her all over again. I could not resolve this. I wanted to pose myself both tasks-understanding and condemnation. But it was impossible to do both.”
“The tectonic layers of our lives rest so tightly one on top of the other that we always come up against earlier events in later ones, not as matter that has been fully formed and pushed aside, but absolutely present and alive.”