The Post-Office Girl
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The Post-Office Girl

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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,371 ratings  ·  217 reviews
The post-office girl is Christine, who looks after her ailing mother and toils in a provincial Austrian post office in the years just after the Great War. One afternoon, as she is dozing among the official forms and stamps, a telegraph arrives addressed to her. It is from her rich aunt, who lives in America and writes requesting that Christine join her and her husband in a...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by NYRB Classics (first published 1982)
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Stoner by John Edward WilliamsChess Story by Stefan ZweigA High Wind in Jamaica by Richard HughesThe Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy CasaresThe Summer Book by Tove Jansson
New York Review Books - Classics
11th out of 365 books — 324 voters
Chess Story by Stefan ZweigBeware of Pity by Stefan ZweigThe Post-Office Girl by Stefan ZweigAmok and Other Stories by Stefan ZweigVingt-quatre heures de la vie d'une femme by Stefan Zweig
Top Stefan Zweig Books
3rd out of 18 books — 23 voters


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Community Reviews

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Louisa
May 18, 2014 Louisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Zweig's writing turns me on. It's true. It's wonderful. For the first few pages of this marvelous book I was treated to the machinations and inner workings of a post office and I was riveted.

 photo Zweig_zpsfb0bc8da.jpg

Twenty-eight year old Christine is living in a remote village in Austria where she works as a post office assistant and is living in a ramshackle of a farmhouse with her ailing mother. Both are suffering from the mind-numbing poverty of Austro-German people after the first world war. Christine's life is one...more
Kalliope




FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES / FRAGMENTED NOVEL

One has to approach this novella with trepidation. Zweig did not publish it. The first and posthumous edition is from 1982, after a considerable reworking of Zweig’s drafts by Knut Beck. Zweig took his own life in a planned manner in February 1942, but before doing so he had sent to his publisher two manuscripts which he had just finished: his memoirs or Die Welt von Gestern. Erinnerungen eines Europäers and Schachnovelle. To leave this earlier work unfini...more
Brian
The world would be a better place if we could all just agree to read more Stefan Zweig. Is that so hard?

I have a pet theory, my own personal belief why Stefan has been neglected. Before the dawn of the e-book, Zweig's novels were shelved in libraries and bookstores in that alphabetical no-man's land: the tail end of the last shelf, right next to those spare metal bookends that look like jetsam from the Millenium Falcon. I can honestly say I've never once, ever, browsed without purpose in the Z's...more
Nidhi
When will it be me? When will it be my turn? What have I been dreaming about during these long empty mornings if not about being free someday from this meaningless grind, this deadly race against time? Relaxing for once, having some unbroken time to myself, not always in shreds, in shards so tiny you could cut your finger on them.

Life can sometimes seem to be arrested in a state of perpetual halt; the waiting for your chance that never ever comes. Not a moment of respite, not a moment without wo...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
This is a novel for today, an odd thing to say, considering it was written almost seventy years ago. It's a tragic version of the Cinderella story, a version with no glass slipper and no Prince Charming; it's a story of a girl taken to the heights only to be plunged back into the depths.

The author, Stephan Zweig, though not that well known in the English-speaking world, is probably the best late representative of the culture of old Vienna, that urbane, tolerant, sophisticated and brilliant world...more
Fionnuala
It's quite a few years sinceI read this but I remember going out immediately afterwards and buying two other books by Zweig.
I think that might serve in lieu of a five star rating.
Anne
The Post Office Girl is a story about a poor, young postal worker, Christine, who gets the chance of a lifetime to have a very brief, but wonderfully transforming vacation from her poverty-stricken life. She is allowed to taste luxury and all that money can buy in a world of wealth and happiness she has never known. This story takes place in Austria after WW1 and is an indictment against Austrian society, or society in general, and the way it allowed the soldiers of WW1 and their families to fl...more
Neelakshi Chakraborty
A lush, descriptive prose soaked in an acerbic, dark humorous tone makes Stefan Zweig stand out.
This intriguing tale of a young, 28-year-old woman stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time makes it a story of deep pathos and an earnest page-turner.

Christine's dilemma is of a Post-War II generation, who, though still in their 20's, already feel that youth is behind them. Financial insecurities, cutting costs, and hard times all around. Even an unexpected vacation seems almost like a burden..

"She...more
Mikki


" ...But it might be better not to know you're so poor, so disgustingly poor and wretched." -- Christine


This story, which takes place in Austria following World War One, centers around Christine (a lowly post office worker) and the internal psychological warfare she battles over the widened gaps between the social classes and economic equality. At 28, she lives a dreary, poverty-stricken existence dividing her time between work and caring for an ailing mother in their shared one room dwelling....more
Caroline
Would it really be a kindness to take a person living their entire life thus far in dull poverty and transport them for 8 days into the very lap of capitalistic luxury, in full knowledge that at the end of the vacation, they would be returned to their previous life?

Christine was one such person, living in post-war Austria with her ailing mother, knowing nothing but poverty and a dreary job in her little town's post office. Her wealthy American aunt, having a sudden attack of conscience, decides...more
Asma Fedosia
Author examined the 1920s Austrian conditions and mentality. The characters, Christine and Ferdinand, are at an impasse in their youthful lives. Both (twenty-eight to thirty years old) remember better, hopeful times of earned prosperity and landed security, but that was innocently lost through a force external to them (WWI and its conditions afterward) through no fault of their own and is without recourse to reclaim it. While Christine has meager but steady employment in a village post office th...more
Chuck LoPresti
Most of the positive reaction to this book involves the setting, the time, the basic concept of Cinderella at the ball and some mention of the fact that it is "well written". Faced with a wealth of reviews you have the ability to make an informed decision about reading this, if you pay attention closely. What you don't hear about is the fact that Zweig leads the reader through each predictable situation by the nose, elimininating the engagement that might otherwise be present in a book that hold...more
Declan
Jan 31, 2012 Declan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: nyrb
I liked this book a lot. It has many excellent qualities and it's themes and implications resonate as strongly now as when it was written. We live in a time when people are suddenly elevated to the vapid realms of celebrity because they have appeared on a particular television programme; had a liaison with a President or marry someone wealthy. The newspapers which feel they have delivered fame to these people always follow the trajectory of an arc. The adoration reaches a peak and then, with ru...more
Camille Stein
'En la escuela aprendía y pensaba cuanto querían los maestros. En la guerra hice los pasos y movimientos que me ordenaban. En el cautiverio sólo soñaba ferozmente: ¡salir de aquí!, y uno se cansaba de tanta inactividad, y después sólo trabajé para otros, de manera absurda e inútil, sólo para conseguir un poco de alimento y para pagar el aire que respiramos.'

'El Estado ha cometido crímenes enormes contra todos nosotros, contra nuestra generación, de suerte que tenemos todo el derecho. Podemos ha...more
Elena
In Lund Sweden there is a museum that preserves preliminary sketches, and I always love these unfinished trial works, most meant to be discarded, much better than the formal polished art pieces intended for grand walls. As an archivist, I prefer meandering drafts to revised and pruned final prose. So it may just be my preference, but I loved reading "Rausch der Verwandlung", even though, or perhaps because, the evolution of the stories (there are two) is still visible in the text, which was reco...more
Sarah
This is a book about a 28 year old postal office worker named Christine set in post-WW1 Austria. Poverty-stricken following the war, she barely scrapes enough money together to support herself and her ill mother in their one-room apartment but she seems content; resigned to the life she was born to live. One day, an estranged aunt from America sends word that Christine should join her and her husband on a glamorous 8-day vacation at an exclusive Swiss resort. Unraveling just like a Cinderella st...more
Nicholas During
I feel a bit mixed about this book. I know that Zweig doesn't lack critics, I've haven't yet read the Michael Hofmann take down but I will soon, and at first I was prepared to disagree with them here. I thought then that the book was an interesting look at the interwar period from a voice perhaps closer to the public that the more experimental, bohemian, elite works coming after WWI. At the same time the depiction of the despair the war, and fate, caused for Christine was very powerful. This is...more
Julka
"Czyż w długie puste przedpołudnia nie marzyłam, by kiedyś wreszcie zrzucić te bezsensowne kajdanki i wycofać się z tego morderczego wyścigu z czasem? I by wreszcie odpocząć, mieć dużo, dużo czasu, a nie, jak zawsze, tylko jego porwane strzępki, tak pocięte, że można skaleczyć nimi palce".

Christine jest skromną urzędniczką. Pracuje na poczcie, gdzieś w zapadłej dziurze. Dodatkowo opiekuje się chorą matką. I liczy, przelicza, każdego dnia dokładnie sprawdza, czy wystarczy jej pieniędzy na podstaw...more
Erin
I started and finished The Post Office Girl in one day. I just couldn't put it down. It's a story that pulls you in at once and never lets go.

It was written in the 1930s by one of Vienna's most famous authors at the time, Stefan Zweig. Shortly after writing the book, he was forced by the Nazis to flee Europe. He died a few years later in 1942 while living in South America.

A short synopsis of the story (NOT a spoiler...)

The story is about a 28 year old woman named Christine, who lives in a small...more
Seana
A bit from a blog post I just did about this one:

I really enjoyed this bittersweet novella of Zweig's. I'd long heard of him but this was my first plunge into his work. It's a bit of an anti-Cinderella story, I suppose, where the princess does get to go to the ball, but the prince doesn't bother to come find her later. Christine is working in a remote Austrian village in between the two Great Wars. Her mother is an invalid, they are poor and Christine works at the post office, without much hope...more
Tim
Jul 11, 2013 Tim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: nyrb
A critique of capitalism and its effect upon the human spirit. For 8 days Christine gets to experience abundance. For that brief period she doesn't hear people say, it's too expensive. Her aunt and uncle are on holiday in Europe and, for 8 glorious days introduce Christine to a life of luxury, of feeling happy and being desired. Powerful men are courting her. She is radiant and lives each moment with gusto. Then, suddenly, without warning, her aunt brings it all to an end. The following morning...more
Patrick Tobin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Stamber
Set in 1926, The Post Office Girl tells the story of an impoverished girl, Christine, from an impoverished family running a "Post Office" in an impoverished village in Austria. Her life changes dramatically when her wealthy aunt invites her to stay at a lavish hotel... but not forever. As Smokey Robinson said, "a taste of honey's worse than none at all" and that's the main theme of the novel.

Zweig does a good job of describing the abject lives of Christine and her family in what must have been i...more
Lorna
3.5 stars.
Post World War I Austria. Virtually the whole world has been thrown into a life of poverty and hardship. In the small village of Klein-Reifling Christine is the Post Office girl, one of the few people lucky enough to have a regular wage, albeit a small one.
Out of the blue comes a telegram from her rich American aunt Claire. Herself and Christine's uncle are holidaying in the Swiss Alps and have invited Christine to join them. Almost immediately on arrival, Christine is swept up into a...more
Sam Grindstaff
Thanks to Wes Anderson for reintroducing Stefan Zweig to a mass(ish) audience. I saw the credit at the end of Grand Budapest and didn't recognize the name. There were occasionally times that I felt like I saw parts of the movie in here, but it is a very different story with a much more serious tone.

This book is now one of my favorites. It feels especially relevant to me at this moment in my life, living basically in poverty and feeling cheated in some way that is hard to articulate, disenchanted...more
Lorri
The Post Office Girl was published posthumously. After Stefan Zweig's death, the manuscript was found. It was not intentionally left for publication.

Much of the novel depicts the strife, poverty and burdens to survive in a bleak world. The second half of it clearly demonstrates the debilitation of lifestyle that individuals went through. Those on the fringe were left with less than the threads they originally had.

Stefan Zweig certainly was masterful in his depictions, emotional ones, as well as...more
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
‘She has begun to find out who she is, and, having discovered this new world, to discover herself.’

Christine Hoflehner is the post office girl of the title, working in a village branch in Klein-Reifling, Austria, in the years after World War One. Her days are identical, each spent working away at the post office, just earning enough to make ends meet, and then returning to the small home she shares with her ailing mother. There is the constant awareness of most things being ‘too expensive’, of h...more
Alan Wells
The Post Office Girl is a beautifully written, emotionally revealing story of a 28-year old, single woman – Christine - living in the post-World War I landscape of Europe. It explores and has the reader understand her experience of facing a poverty-laden, lonely life in which each day brings incessant work and chores, doing without virtually any niceties, and facing living conditions that are in many ways, disgusting.

Most importantly, I think the story shares what it is like for this woman – dep...more
James
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorenzo Berardi
'The Post-Office Girl' has been my commuting book over the last two weeks.

Hence, I read this novel at intervals from 7.30 to 8.30 AM and from 5.30 to 6.30 PM stuck in the upper deck of buses packed with people coughing, listening to music, talking at their cellphones, playing online games and talking to each other. And necessarily in this order.

You may therefore understand that my attention span to the written word was somewhat fickle and got easily unnerved by the virulent bursts of either che...more
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NYRB Classics: The Post-Office Girl, by Stefan Zweig 1 4 Oct 29, 2013 05:42PM  
NYRB Classics: January 2012: The Post-Office Girl 78 53 Feb 09, 2012 06:44PM  
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Stefan Zweig was one of the world's most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from and Unknown Woman and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France,...more
More about Stefan Zweig...
Chess Story Beware of Pity The World of Yesterday Amok and Other Stories Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d'une femme

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“Time to leave now, get out of this room, go somewhere, anywhere; sharpen this feeling of happiness and freedom, stretch your limbs, fill your eyes, be awake, wider awake, vividly awake in every sense and every pore.” 1955 likes
“For this quiet, unprepossessing, passive man who has no garden in front of his subsidised flat, books are like flowers. He loves to line them up on the shelf in multicoloured rows: he watches over each of them with an old-fashioned gardener's delight, holds them like fragile objects in his thin, bloodless hands.” 27 likes
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