Elizabeth Lhuede's Reviews > Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten
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Feb 20, 12

bookshelves: australian-author, australian-women-writers-challenge, crime
Read on February 20, 2012

This is a well-written novel but I'm definitely *not* the target audience.

From the start, I found the tension Joosten skilfully creates almost unbearable. The story is stark in its simplicity: a lonely young Australian woman visiting Berlin is drawn into a relationship with a troubled young man with unresolved mother issues. For me, there was almost nothing about this man I found attractive, and the fact that the girl, Clare, allows herself to be involved with him made me question her judgement from the beginning. I wanted to like her, I felt sorry for her, but I was given little confidence she could protect herself, something which made the story like watching an accident happening in slow motion and being powerless to prevent it.

If I'd been able to detach and read the novel as a fable - which it also undoubtedly is - I might have enjoyed it more. In the absurdity of its situation, it reminded me of some of the short stories in Peteer Cary's The Fat Man in History collection. But reading it as realist fiction made it so gut-wrenchingly awful I found myself skimming to get it over with. Strangely, though, I can see it working as a movie.

Given the strength of my visceral reaction, I'll be interested to see what Joosten writes next. She's obviously a talented writer.
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Lisa Nicely done, Elizabeth, it's not easy to review this book without giving anything away!


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