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De middagvrouw
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De middagvrouw

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  1,237 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
In het najaar van 1945 vlucht een vrouw met haar zevenjarig zoontje voor de Russen naar het westen. Op een klein treinstation ergens in het oosten van Duitsland rusten ze uit. Helene heeft zichzelf en haar kind door de moeilijke oorlogsjaren gesleept. Nu alles achter de rug is en alles mogelijk lijkt, laat ze hem alleen achter op het perron. Ze komt niet meer terug.
Paperback, 382 pages
Published April 2009 by Wereldbibliotheek (first published 2007)
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K.D. Absolutely
Apr 17, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Book You Must Read Before You Die (2010)
The author, German novelist Julia Franck (born 1970) was 39 years old when this book, The Blind Side of the Heart was first published in German language. Its milieu is Germany in between the two world wars and I could not help but be amazed how intricate Franck was able to weave her story considering that she was not born yet at that time. It was the same awe that I had, almost a decade ago, while reading Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War about French trench warfare when its author, Sebastian Fa ...more
In the original German version, so I’ve been told, the title of this book is Die Mittagsfrau, or “The Noonday Witch”. According to legend, the witch appears in the heat of day to spirit away children from their distracted parents. Those who are able to engage the witch in a short conversation find that her witch-like powers evaporate.

In Julia Franck’s brilliant English version (translated by the very talented Anthea Bell), Helene gradually retreats into silence and passivity, losing her ability
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Winner of the German Book Prize

Most novels that explore the events of the Holocaust focus on the ‘Before’ and ‘After’-showing the events chronologically and the resulting impact. However, The Blindness of the Heart takes a reverse approach and begins by revealing a disturbing ‘After’: a young woman abandons her young son at a train station and disappears. We see how they’ve lived in horror for months, but his abandonment is still shocking. Then the author
Jul 24, 2011 Fruchtfleisch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Die Mittagsfrau ist eines jener Bücher, vor denen ich mich ganz lang gedrückt habe, mich störte der Hype um das Buch und vor allem um die Autorin.

Tatsächlich kann ich nicht genau beschreiben, was an dem Buch so gut funktioniert, aber ich konnte es immer kaum erwarten, weiterlesen zu können.

Wer es lesen will, sollte übrigens unbedingt NICHT den Klappentext lesen, da wird nämlich etwas ganz Wesentliches verraten.

Zum Inhalt schweige ich mich hier aus, da man ihn allüberall nachlesen kann, in Tausen
Aug 22, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read through some of the reviews for this book. I'm always amazed at what some readers think. Books, clearly, touch us in different ways. This book has been described as disturbing, haunting, and shocking. It is all of those and more. What moved me about this book was the evolution of the character Helene as she changed in response to tragic events, how she moves from a bright, energetic, ambitious girl to a cold, distant, lonely, cruel, burdened mother. The contrast between the girl's outlook ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 11, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why One Writes

You often see reviewers praising a book with the words "this is why one reads." Here is a book that turns upon a different question: why the author writes. This is my second attempt at a review of it, and I think my reasons for making the change are important. I would not want other readers to be led astray by Amazon's marketing as I was when I first read it, and expect a novel about moral degeneration in Germany during the interwar years, only to criticize the author for not succe
Friederike Knabe
Oct 17, 2010 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
Julia Franck's novel, DIE MITTAGSFRAU, published in English under the title "Blindness of the Heart: A Novel" starts dramatically with a Prologue in which a young mother leaves her seven-year old son at a remote railway station in eastern Germany and disappears... The time is 1945, the war has ended and the two have to flee west ahead of Soviet troops taking over the city. The author, captivated by her own father's childhood trauma, took the search for possible explanations for her grandmother's ...more
Everyone seems to love this book. It's being compared with Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, but I don't see it. The story was gripping, but I didn't like any of the characters, not even the little boy. I couldn't care less about this woman and I was angry that she repeated her own mother's faults. I did finish it because it was for my bookclub, but if it wasn't for that I wouldn't have finished it.
I really don't mind drama in a book, terrible things happen, but I at least want to sympathize wit
Oct 11, 2015 Eugenia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am terminat cartea cu un oftat plin de tristete. Cata suferinta este pe lumea asta! Personajul principal, Helene care traieste o viata in care experientele nefericite se precipita si fac din ea o persoana rece si dura. Isi abandoneaza baietelul intr-o gara fara sa ii spuna ca o face pentru "bunastarea" lui, doar ea singura crede asta. Sper ca Peter sa isi fi gasit linistea sufleteasca.
Apr 09, 2014 شادی rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
نوشتن از این کتاب برایم سخت است وقتی انقدر با شخصیت اصلی انس گرفتم و فهمیدمش. تاریخ آلمان در دو جنگ و شخصیت های جذاب و روند نفس گیر کتاب از ویژگی هایش است
Das Buch fängt so grausam an, dass ich es beinahe schon weggelegt hätte.
-> Eine Mutter lässt ihren 7-jährigen Sohn, nachdem sie gerade mit ihm den Krieg überlebt hat, am Bahnhof sitzen und verschwindet.

Der nächste Teil des Buches dreht sich um Helene und ihre große, 6 Jahre ältere Schwester Martha, die unter ärmlichen Verhältnissen und mit einer psychisch labilen Mutter aufwachsen. Auch hier lange Zeit nur Elend und Horror.
Der Prolog könnte beinahe in Vergessenheit geraten, hätte er sich nich
Jan 14, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars. Very good book; at times somewhat wordy, but that could be due to the German-to-English translation. In a crowded train station in 1945, as throngs of Germans flee to the West, Helene tells her seven-year-old son to sit on a bench and wait while she goes to the bathroom, but she never returns. There begins the unsettling question of what sort of circumstances could lead a mother to abandon her son. The answer is as much historical as it is psychological. From her childhood in a smal ...more
Jul 04, 2014 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this was a really slow book; after the 'prologue', which was actually a scene from the end of the story, it then took time to really get going. It largely tells the story of sisters Martha and Helene, especially the latter younger sister, as they are brought up in Germany during the period of the two World Wars. They virtually have to care for themselves after their father goes off to fight in WW1 and comes back seriously injured; their mother meanwhile goes gradually insane. Eventually ...more
Lisa Hayden Espenschade
Feb 23, 2011 Lisa Hayden Espenschade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like existential novels with historical backdrops
Recommended to Lisa by: Amy of The Black Sheep Dances
The Blindness of the Heart is a dark novel that begins with a woman abandoning her young son then backtracks to show how life has rendered her unable to care for her son, even as she treats patients, as nurse. Franck sets the book from World War 1 through the end of World War 2, establishing parallels between societal breakdowns and personal problems. The book is filled with pain and abandonment of all sorts and says a lot about the human condition; I'm glad I read the book in small installments ...more
Jul 02, 2010 Reni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ja natürlich ist das ein grausames Buch. Es schildert den Lebensweg einer Frau, die so gebrochen ist, dass sie ihren kleinen Sohn aussetzt (auch wenn sie sich einredet dabei dem Sohn Gutes zu tun, doch eigentlich nur, um sich selbst zu bestrafen?). Was daran langatmig sein soll? Es ist unheimlich detailliert geschrieben, präzise, so klinisch, dass es einen fast schon ekelt. Da ist kein Moment in dieser erdachten Biographie, den man auslassen sollte. Am Ende ging es mir beinahe zu hastig. Daher 4 ...more
Monica Carter
Mar 24, 2011 Monica Carter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: btba
Wilhelm interrupted her, tapping the boy on the back of the neck. Don't cry,Peter. And remember this, men are there to kill and women are there to heal their wounds. Peter tilted his head back and looked up to his father. Perhaps there was a smile? But no, his father's gaze was serious.

Chilling, disturbing, compelling, brutal, sensual, imaginative, unromantic, epic, saga - all of these words describe The Blindness in the Heart. This title was put on the longlist for Best Translated Book Award
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 05, 2011 Jos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Voor een keer een oorlogsepos dat je over de twee wereldoorlogen tilt en de periode ertussen vanuit het standpunt van een Duitse vrouw. Wat brengt een moeder ertoe je kind achter te laten in overvol treinstation ergens in het midden van nergens. Het verhaal begint bij aanvang van de eerste wereldoorlog waar een zwakke joodse vader terug dienst neemt als officier in het lokale regiment. De dochters blijven achter met en zenuwzieke moeder, die mittagsfrau, en proberen te overleven door hun kleine ...more
Ein großartiger Roman über ein kompliziertes Mutter-Tochter-Verhältnis, Geschwisterliebe, eine ungewöhnlich zarte Liebe im Berlin der 20er Jahre, über verleugnete jüdische Identität, Verlust und Unmöglichkeit von Nähe. Wunderbar wird die zugleich faszinierende und abstoßende Sammlung seltsamer Dinge der verrückten Mutter beschrieben; beeindruckend sind auch die Schilderungen Berlins, oft ohne die Sache direkt zu benennen, z. B. besucht die Hauptfigur die Inszenierung der Dreigroschenoper und dis ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Daisy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daisy by: Amy Henry's shelf
Shelves: germany, mushrooms
Parenthesized (is that a word?) by prologue and epilogue of a young boy's connection to his mother, is the story of a girl/young woman during the early part of the 20th Century in and around Berlin. It covers two wars and the liberal era in the '20s and early '30s.

When I started the book, I asked myself to predict what the would title mean. Loving without seeing, loving to distraction, unable to not-love? Or closing off the heart and preventing love, avoiding it? Or both? Or more?

Thanks to Iren
Nov 29, 2010 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an amazing book--about two sisters in Germany, beginning around the time of WWI and ending after WWII. The sisters, daughters of a mentally ill Jewish mother and a German father, move to Berlin to follow their dreams, and find everything but. I felt like I got a glimpse into German society and culture that I had never seen before--to a point where I could almost feel the momentum from which Hitler emerged. The characters were so complex, that I find myself still trying to unde ...more
Robyn Markow
Jul 23, 2014 Robyn Markow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry but this book was very depressing as well as creepy. A woman abandons her little boy at a train station? It pretty much lost me there & went steadily downhill after that! I've read plenty of WW2 novels from the Average German Viewpoint("Stones From The River" being one example) but that book had sympathetic characters in it & wasn't so "Sturm Und Drang"(Sic). I'm sure there are people out there will like this book,but I couldn't get past the 1st two chapters.( which were also q ...more
Nov 21, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very compelling book, translated from the German, not for the faint of heart. Some very difficult scenes. It covers the time from the end of WWI until the early 1950's in Germany. Those folks went through some really impossibly difficult experiences. I liked it, but can't quite say why. I alternatively loved the main character, Helene, and then was exasperated by her stolid acceptance of the way she was being treated by her jerk of a husband. Read it yourself, it's worth the time.
Jan 05, 2012 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group-work
well i have finished it. thats the most positive i can be about it i am afraid. I found it slow and quite a cold read. There is such a sense of loss and detachment that runs through the whole book. All the characters portray a want / need that they cant nor wont allow others to fill. i just felt that although the timing of the story made it worse the characters just needed a huge kick to get them going and nothing ever did. all in all i am glad its over!
Feb 04, 2010 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am Anfang hat mich total verwirrt, dass Franck einfach keine Anführungszeichen benutzt, aber später war das eines der besten Dinge des Buchs.
So viele zwar im Text versteckte, aber trotzdem so klare Hinweise auf Charakterzüge der Protagonistin und den anderen Figuten, die einfach so schön verpackt sind. Das Buch ist sehr lesenswert, wunderbar grausam und ehrlich, und ein klasse Ende.
Leylak Dalı
Dec 22, 2016 Leylak Dalı rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elimde uzun süre süründü "Öğlen Kadını", tamamen benden kaynaklanan sebeplerle. Yoksa bu yıl okuduğum en güzel kitaplardan biriydi. 2. Dünya Savaşı'nın sonuna doğru başlayan kitap geriye dönüşlerle bir ailenin öyküsünü anlatıyor. Alef yayınları'nın okuyup da sevmediğim çok az kitabı oldu, bu da tamamen içgüdüsel olarak seçtiğim bir Alef kitabı idi...
Mar 20, 2011 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, haunting book of a young German woman leading up to and during WWII. The psychological damage she experiences in childhood leaves her with few options as she navigates her life through an extremely disturbing period of the twentieth century.
Mar 28, 2009 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spellbinding book about the German interwar period, women, drugs, mother-child relationships, Judaism, homosexuality and more ...

A great read!!
Aug 16, 2009 Gudrun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sehr düster, nicht fertiggelesen, gut erzählt, aber zuviele unglückliche und schreckliche Dinge im Leben dieser Frau, vor allem in der Kindheit, aber auch ihr zweiter Mann.
Jan 03, 2011 Connie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Found this book to be very "Nordic" In my opinion, it was dark, grim and pessimistic but absolutely mesmerizing at the same time. Reminded me of Berman films.
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