Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dark Room” as Want to Read:
The Dark Room
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dark Room

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  1,888 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
The Dark Room tells the stories of three ordinary Germans: Helmut, a young photographer in Berlin in the 1930s who uses his craft to express his patriotic fervour; Lore, a twelve-year-old girl who in 1945 guides her young siblings across a devastated Germany after her Nazi parents are seized by the Allies; and, fifty years later, Micha, a young teacher obsessed with what h ...more
Paperback, 398 pages
Published February 7th 2002 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dark Room, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Ben Kane
Mar 03, 2012 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing
I've owned this book since either 2002 or 2003, and tried to read it twice, never managing to read more than about 15 pages. Something made me keep it, however - perhaps it was the haunting real life photo on the cover. Anyway, serendipity struck yesterday. I picked it up, started reading, was sucked in and read more than 200 pages in one sitting. I finished it this evening in about an hour. This is an extraordinary book, broken into three tales, all of ordinary Germans, the first two of which a ...more
Flora Baker
Jul 04, 2011 Flora Baker rated it it was ok
Having read other reviews of this book, I feel both confused and harsh about giving my own opinion. Despite a compelling plotline detailing the aftermath of WW2 in Germany, and a fresh perspective given by German citizens (with somewhat Nazist sympathies) about the war, I felt strongly that the writing was really much too spare, cold, and empty to be deemed worthy of the storyline it was describing. I felt completely uninvolved with the characters' plights; I may as well have been reading histor ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the ways history touches specific lives
This is the best work of fiction that employs history without being didactic that I have read since "The Known World." And I am usually very annoyed by WWII novels set in Germany, which all seem to be too much History Channel and not enough literary value. This book means something.
Feb 18, 2010 Christine rated it liked it
This book is interesting as it tells the story of WWII, but from Nazi German perspectives. The characters are children in parts 1 & 2. Part 3 involves an adult researching his grandfather's involvement in WWII and the subsequent knowledge of his grandfather's decisions and actions, how Micha feels about him knowing what he did. This is a thought provoking novel, from a perspective I haven't encountered before now.

Another reviewer says this:

People are 'both right and wrong, good and bad, both
Apr 11, 2007 Tamar rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It is about the holocaust, but told from the perspective of Germans who lived through it. There are three short stories - the first is about a teenage boy who is handicapped so can't join the German army, bu wishes he could. The second is the story of five children whose parents were arrested at the end of the war for being Nazis and they have to make their way across a divided Germany to try and find their parents. The last is set in modern times about a guy obsessed w ...more
Marc Maitland
Sep 23, 2011 Marc Maitland rated it it was amazing
This is a trio of very different stories, all with the common theme of how three very diverse sets of Germans deal with the rise and ultimate fall of Nazism. The first of the trio is set in the glory days of the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, as seen through the eyes of a naïve young man, and what happens afterwards. The second is a somewhat rambling story of a 14-year-old German girl who, with her younger siblings survives the disappearance of her Nazi parents and the struggles to get to ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Anita rated it really liked it
A story that captured my eye mainly due to my interest in the holocaust. I've read many fiction and non fiction material on the holocaust and the appauling effects it had on the Jewish community. However, never have I read a perspective from other Germans living during the war and afterwards. The innocent relatives of the people who were part of the Nazi party; feeling the impact and after effects of the consequences members and their family faced when Germany lost the war and the full extent of ...more
May 28, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is one of the most beautifully written, thought-provoking books I've read in a long, long time. It contains three stories about WWII.

The first tracess the life of a young man through the war years in Berlin, the second allows us to shadow a teenage girl and her 4 siblings as they cross war-torn Germany during and immediately following the end of the war, and the final story details the process a young teacher follows as he researches the role his grandfather played during the war.

Each sto
Nov 03, 2008 Elizabeth added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Sue Grainger
Tremendously well researched, which gives the book verisimilitude. It's the story of three different German families and the effects that WWII has on them. One story takes place during the war, one immediately after, and one fifty years later. Two of the stories focus on the effects of parents and grandparents having been Nazis.

If there had been any connection between the three different sections other than the extremely tenuous link of "photographs were taken during the war," this would have be
Apr 21, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing
I chose to read this book after seeing the movie Lore, which is based on one of the three stories in this book, The Dark Room. The book is broken into three stories of Germans and focuses on World War II. The first is about Helmut, a baby born missing a muscle in his chest that will weaken his ability to use his right arm. A lifetime working on strengthening the muscles and his arm only do so much good and as a child and eventually a young man he begins to understand that it will always be a bur ...more
Feb 26, 2013 Suzanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Lore by Rachel Seiffert. I won this book on Goodreads. I enjoy reading about WWII etc I think it is important for us to know and be aware of how things were during the era. There are 3 short stories. The stories do not link together. First involves a young man w/a physical handicap that makes him unable to join the forces and go to war. He has kept his handicap hidden so no one knows he was declined joining the army so he is looked down upon in the town because their young sons and husbands were ...more
I usually struggle with books written in English about the German perspective on WWII-related events (somehow the different language imposes a filter that distracts me too much to be able to focus through it, removing it too far from authenticity), but this was excellent. I picked it up because I was curious about the middle story, "Lore," having been very impressed with the film adaptation; it's possibly even more haunting in writing. The language is sparse to the point of starkness, which real ...more
Feb 25, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing
Mid 5. In this wonderful novel, Seiffert examines three separate individuals' efforts to cope with the devastation of the Second World War and the shame which enveloped Germany in light of the atrocities committed in the name of Aryan ideals. The novel is structured around three figures covering three distinct time periods and their relationship to the rise, fall, and aftermath of Nazism. Helmut, a disabled photographer's assistant, illustrates with his experiences, the need to be accepted by a ...more
Martine Bailey
Shortlisted for the Man Booker and other prizes, Rachel Seiffert’s novel explores the complex moral situation among ordinary Germans during and just after the Second World War. In the form of three novellas, by far the most engaging is the middle story, ‘Lore’, about a 12-year girl abandoned by her Nazi parents in the countryside with the task of getting her younger siblings across Germany to Hamburg. Before leaving for an American camp, her mother gives Lore money and jewellery to buy their tra ...more
May 18, 2013 Lucy rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
The book is moving and why not thought-provoking, but I guess my problem with it was that war books are not really my thing. I've tried reading a few and it's not that I don't like them, I simply don't enjoy them. I cannot connect with the situation, I can't put myself into somebody else's shoes and try to understand what they went through and so the reading gets tedious and I get bored. Since this was an assigned reading I had no choice but to read it.

The book contains three different
Robert Ronsson
Aug 14, 2014 Robert Ronsson rated it really liked it
I read Sebastian Faulks's book A Possible Life recently and criticised it for being five disparate stories purporting to be a novel. The Dark Room is similar in that it's three narratives but this time they are connected by their being set in WW2 Germany.
The device works better here and I think it's because of the closer proximity of the stories. The protagonists' three different viewpoints on Facism make a three-dimensional whole that is solid and stands up to scrutiny.
The three stories show th
Sep 05, 2008 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Pamela by: a book club choice
What can I say about this profoundly moving and evocative trio of novellas except OMG. This was a Booker Prize Finalist 2001 (not surprising) and winner of the LA Times Book Prize.
Seiffert's sparse, lyrical prose pierces to the heart of the matter and evokes time, place, character, humanity, and wrenching emotion with the cleanest stroke of the keyboard. Such power and so little dressing.

Seiffert opens a window into the dark rooms occupied by three Germans whose lives are shaped, and shattered,
Erika Duan
Nov 12, 2012 Erika Duan rated it liked it
Upon first thought, the book seemed segmented- with the first two stories disappearing in mid-narration and a final which dragged slightly, weighed by its protangonist's inability to leave a single thought.

But his thought is a heavy one. Mischa is haunted by the possibility of his grandfather's active participation in the Holocaust, tormented by questions of past atrocities negating present humanity. The inability to find a single best answer, with 'not enough sadness, and no punishment' for th
May 15, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it
The first two sections of this book were fascinating and I struggled through the third thinking somehow it would all come together in the end, which it didn't. It could be read as three separate stories and I felt sense of disappointment that we never find out what happens to the characters in the first two sections.

That said I loved her sparse style of writing and she had the ability to evoke a sense of place and time in a very effective manner. The characters on the first two sections were fas
Jun 13, 2013 Ursula rated it it was amazing
I recently saw the movie "Lore", which is based on one of the stories in this book. The movie received excellent reviews at the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals. Amazing and enlightening! The German baby boomers have been living with this awful feeling of guilt, asking themselves what role their parents played in the holocaust and why the young people in Germany did not seem to question the Hitler Regime.
Ian Sear
Nov 13, 2014 Ian Sear rated it really liked it
An audiobook listen.

Made up of 3 stories that are set in Germany and concerned with the second world war. The first 2 stories were ok, nothing brillant. The last story was really interesting and brought up the question of whether you could still love your relative that may have done something terrible in the war to innocent people.
there is a good review here;

oops bought this today vintage international edition 2001 29/11/2013 but already have it. 29/11/2013 1 0f 20 books for $10 the lot
Claudia Putnam
Jan 16, 2014 Claudia Putnam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
I might rather give this 3.5 or 3.75, but skewing up for ambition.

Although the characters were so well drawn it was hard to let go of them and move to the next story, I disagree with the reviewers who felt that it was a flaw in the book to keep each storyline separate. The author faced tradeoffs either way. If she'd interlinked the three stories somehow, say by having them all be about members of the same multigenerational family, or perhaps in the same neighborhood, she would not have been abl
Charles Lewis
May 30, 2017 Charles Lewis rated it really liked it
A series of intense three interlocking novenas that a draw a complex picture of Germany under the Nazis, just after the war and the fall out today, as the descendants of the murderous regime try to cope with their heritage. I would also recommend "Motherland" by Maria Hummel. Also superb.
Have you ever bought a book only to read it years later? When I bought this more than 3 years ago, it's a clean paperback soon tucked away between shelves and moving to a newer home, and I just discovered it again 3 days ago. It was getting moldy and musty, and everything I want not for a book collection. Almost threw it with the rest of my 'giveaway' books to donate to Goodreads Indonesia!

SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt Nordland (Wiking)

Then I started reading.. There are 3 stories of 3 different characters set in 3 different lifetimes. The o
Jun 13, 2011 Siv30 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww2
פעם, בימים ההם, שהיום נראים כמו איזה סרט עתיק מאוד, היתה משמעות לחדר החשוך. מילת קוד שמאפשרת כניסה למקום סודי שבו מתגלה ומתבהרת התמונה.

בניגוד לעידן המודרני שבו, חסרי יכולת דחיית סיפוקים שכמותנו, אנחנו מיד מגלים את התמונה ובוחנים אותה במסך 5 אינץ`, בעבר הגילוי, פיסת המציאות שנתפסה בעין המצלמה היתה רגע מכונן של בריאת המציאות.

באותו הרגע, אי אפשר היה לתקן, לחלום, לפנטז, רק לפרש את המציאות המשתקפת ממנה.

"החדר החשוך" של רייצ`ל זייפרט מביא לקורא פיסת מציאות מעובדת של היסטוריה.

דור ראשון, דור שני, דור שלי
Jun 09, 2013 Samantha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, firstread, wwii
I received this book as a Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway. I had not heard of the movie and still have not seen it, but I do enjoy reading about WWII, which is the timeframe of this book.

Each of the characters is German, and Seiffert attempts to tell the story of the Holocaust from the viewpoint of the perpetrators, or at least that of their more innocent kinsmen. This reminded me of Zusak's 'The Book Theif,' which has a similar premise but is better executed, in my opinion. Seiffert has a lovely
THAT kid
Feb 20, 2017 THAT kid rated it really liked it
The writing is sparse and matter-of-fact which emphasises the "quiet" feeling that comes to when reading accounts of Germans during the war, or afterwards when coming to terms with what occurred in their country, of coming to terms with what they did. There's a certain, snow-covered horror that comes from reading such accounts - for some reason it all feels very blanketed, surreal. Even now I can't find the words to explain it.

The story was told in a way so simple - though not simple-mindedly -
Mar 17, 2014 Marten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These three stories were so engaging. I struggle for the right word to describe them. They were fantastic, in that they were mesmerizing and so well written, but I feel that the word fantastic has such a positive suggestion, and these stories were so sad, so deeply fraught with the guilt of Germany and World War Two that I do not feel that this word is right. The author has created, in two of the three stories, the most riveting tales of guilt and identity for the German that cannot be easily re ...more
Sep 04, 2013 LindaJ^ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not really a novel but rather 3 stories about the impact of WWII and the holocast on German citizens. The stories are quite interesting, but all that ties them together is that the stories reflect the impact on non-combatants of the actions of Hitler-led Germany.

The first is about Helmut, who was born with a bone missing that made it impossible for him to raise his arm over his shoulder. He gets along fine until school when he is not allowed to play sports. He develops a fascination with
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: title 1 20 Sep 12, 2015 01:27PM  
  • The Keepers of Truth
  • The Deposition of Father McGreevy
  • Europa
  • Oxygen
  • An Awfully Big Adventure
  • Pale Horses (Jade de Jong, #4)
  • The Colour of Blood
  • The Underground Man
  • Daughters of the House
  • Pascali's Island
  • Our Fathers
  • The Good Doctor
  • Bitter Fruit
  • Beside the Ocean of Time
  • Quarantine
  • Jake's Thing
  • The Hiding Place
  • Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Share This Book