Stewart's Reviews > The Reader

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
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Dec 04, 08

Read in December, 2008

Whenever a film is coming out that is based on an acclaimed book, I try to read the book first (knowing that the reverse order almost never happens for me). The Reader is the latest such circumstance, and I'm glad I made the time for this quick read. The book centers on the reflections of a man who, as a teenager in post WW-II Germany, had a passionate love affair with a reticent and mysterious older woman. Mere months later, she disappears from his life. The rest of the book explains why, and the impact this revelation has on the main character. Schlink writes beautifully simple, declarative prose that is shorn of pretense. The Reader envelops us in the painfully bittersweet and conflicted memories of a man whose lover turns out to be a mirage, and the resulting guilt he feels regarding their relationship, as it existed both before and after he learns about her shameful past. This relationship is purposefully symbolic to represent for Schlink the complicated feelings of second generation Germans about the horrific legacy of the Holocaust, as perpetrated in varying degrees by their very own loved ones. Schlink adroitly raises the many thorny issues raised by this sensitive subject, and equally skillfully leaves the narrative open for his readers to puzzle over them, just as his sad, sympathetic narrator must as well.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Lisa West I just saw the film tonight--haven't read the book yet. I usually like to read the book first, too. Anyway, I came here to see if the book could be as good as the film and I think your review sums up how I felt about the film. It is an excellent movie--I highly recommend it. I'm going to read the book as soon as I find my copy.


Julia Marie I did the same thing as you did, saw the film advertised in the papers and then decided to pick up the book. I don't think I'll see the movie, but I greatly enjoyed the novel.


message 3: by ~phelulah~ (new) - added it

~phelulah~ Thank you for the review! I plan to read the book first on a flight. Hopefully it won't let me down!! Thanks again!


message 4: by Huma (new) - added it

Huma I just finished the film and fell in love with it; can't wait to read the book!


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