The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Blurb From Goodreads
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.
I think the word I would have to use for this book is shocking. More than once I was shocked reading it and actually gasped at one point. The story starts with a young 15 year old boy being helped by an older lady when he is sick, upon returning to thank her for her help they embark upon a physical relationship. This in itself is quite shocking as she is around twice his age but the relationship is very turbulent and bizarre not counting the age issue.
The book jumps on in years and Michael finds himself once again with Hanna in his life when he least expects it and a huge secret about her past. Does this explain why she was the way she was with him or is there something else she is keeping hidden?
The book is written in very short chapters so makes for a quick read and the writing and story itself is very easy to follow. The end takes a turn that I was not expecting (as it had done at the beginning despite knowing a relationship was on the cards).
The book has riled a few feathers with some readers as they feel the author trys to evoke sympathy for Hanna despite what she has done, some have slated the actual writing and felt the content was poor. I for the most part enjoyed the book and as I said it took a few turns I did not expect, it kept my interest and was for the most part easy reading. I think it is fair to say we have another marmite book, I am on the side of liking it and for me it is a 4/5.
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