Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink


I had hoped to love this book more than I did. I could never quite fall into step with the narrator's voice or feel much for either Michael or Hanna. There was such a stoicism in how Michael told the story of their affair and of Hanna's trial later on, it was almost impossible to rouse any emotion or empathy for them. Am I the only one?

I did find Hanna's conflict interesting--that she'd choose to take the blame for such egregious crimes over admitting to the degree to which she lacks education. It seemed like such a counter-intuitive thing to do; I'm still not entirely sure I understand why she makes the choice she does---is it pride or guilt? Does she feel that she deserves the harshest punishment even though she is not the one who masterminded the crime? Is the austerity with which she lives her life and pushes people from her done out of a sense of penance or arrogance?

I'd like to believe she lives her life and makes the choices she does as a form of atonement, but it's never entirely clear--she is so devoid of emotion for so much of the story, and given her crime, it's hard to give her the benefit of the doubt. There's only so much sympathy one can drum up for a Nazi, you know?

6 comments:

gringa said...

I guess you begin to understand why there are so few good movies when you find that there are basically very few really satisfying books. Thanks for doing the reviews.

Emi said...

Hey.. I usually read this one too, but don't usually leave comments..
But on that note, I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Husseini (the second of the author of Kite Runner) That would have been one that I would have loved to have discussed with a group. I could not sleep after reading it and all I wanted to do was hold my daughter so tightly and thank the universe for the place I live in as a woman... If you have read it or are going to I would love to discuss amongst ourselves...

sarah said...

Emi--I read A Thousand Pleasant Suns at the end of last year; my thoughts on it are in my last 2008 post.

Let's definitely chat about it next time we're talking!! xoxoox

Sarah said...

reinesI wish I had time to read books! Books that aren't scholarly. If I ever do, I swear I will come here first for recs!!

Do you read Julia? She has a post up talking about a social networking/reading site...

Sarah said...

okay reines was my word verification-- have no idea how it ended up in my comment...

cicadalady said...

i read this a while ago and didn't find it memorable, clearly, because when the movie came out it took me a while before i realized that, oh yeah, i read about that. i don't remember it that well so i can't write much else about it!

just finished "the new earth" by eckhart tolle and am now spiritually enlightened. ok, not completely, but it was a good book. now i'm about to start rev. road (thank you!) and have "bel canto", "loving frank", and "out stealing horses" all on my current to-read list. do you do shelfari on facebook? SUCH a great way to get book recs, except not enough people use it! i'd love it if you did!