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The Bicycle Teacher

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In the summer of 1981, Michael from Perth meets Kathrin from Berlin. It's love. It's East meets West, and East wins.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Rippple Books (first published January 15th 2006)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  114 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won The Bicycle Teacher in a Goodreads giveaway. I wasn't sure what to expect from it, given the perfunctory blurb, but I requested it because I wanted to hear more about life in East Germany. I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it.

For those of you who want to hear a bit more about it before buying, The Bicycle Teacher is a novel narrated in the first-person by Michael, a young Australian mechanic who is disillusioned with Perth because of the uncrossable gap between the 'haves' of the western su
Sharon Huether
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A young man from Australia is dissolutioned with his life there.
He takes a trip to England, then ferries to Germany. He travels to East Germany, there he finds what he had been searching for. His future wife, job and education. After the Wall comes down he and his family move back to Australia.
I liked how the author brought out all the historical events of that era.
I won this Free book from Goodreads First reads.
William Beeby
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent read.

I give this book five stars because it kept my interest from beginning to end and I really liked the style of writing .
Apr 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review--from Library Thing, I think.

My honest rating would be 3.5 stars, but without that option, I give it 3, and not 4, because although I enjoyed this book and was very caught up in the storytelling, there are some aspects that take away too much for it to deserve 4 stars.

The author's narrative style is so realistic that I almost classify this book as a memoir, and that is its main strength: it is so realistic, so straightforward,
Pekka Karppi
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I got this book through Goodreads as a giveaway. I liked this book, I didn't try to research the author, but the book reads as a memoir, with the names changed. The protagonist, Michael, is a young Australian man who grew up on the poor side of Perth, Western Australia in the 1960's and 1970's. He comes from a working class background and feels disassociated from Australian society, with no chance to improve his lot in life. His sister, who married an Englishman, has moved to London and he goes ...more
Irene Adam
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of The Bicycle Teacher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review. This book gives the reader another perspective of communism. The narrator moves from a capitalist world in Australia to a communist, later socialist, world in East Berlin at the time when the Berlin Wall still exists and later lives through the changes when the wall comes down. He comes to East Berlin as a guest worker. Because he knows the right people and he is well versed in En ...more
Karissa Goellner
I really enjoyed the writing of this book. It's very open, honest, and made me think about society around me.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of "The Bicycle Teacher" by Campbell Jefferys through the "Good Reads First Reads Giveaway."

The fact that this book reads like an autobiography is a manifestation of the author's talent. However, his socialistic ideas are a little upsetting to one who believes in the benefit of Capitalism, despite its problems. Our homeless population is mostly made up of drug and alcohol addicted people and the mentally ill. Well meaning Liberal activists essentially closed the mental hea
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from goodreads giveaways.
This book has a good flow and engaging narrative. I particularly like all the historical references. It reads almost like a memoir. Thoroughly enjoyable story that leaves you feeling like you better understand the people, place and time.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Goodreads for this gift. I read this book at an interesting time in my life. My husband has his masters degree and his CPA, works very hard but is about to get let go just because his boss doesn't feel like being nice. We live in a world where we assume that hard work and thinking outside the box will actually give you the opportunity to succeed. Bosses like forward thinking, right? Strong personalities who have great ideas? Hmmmm, not so much it seems. It's funny, but As I finished th ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I am very interested in stories from the WWII era. It was interesting to read of the two sides, with Communism being the preferred way of life.
Written in the first person, this book is very realistic and reads like a memoir.
A disillusioned young man leaves his home and family in Perth, Australia, in search of a more meaningful life. He is tired of the class system, the haves and the have-nots, and the "grass his always greener" approach to life in his cou
Eric Lee
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
(Note: I won this book in a book giveaway.)

This is a rather unique story from a perspective with which I'm rather unfamiliar, even though I have spent some time in what is formerly the East German part of Berlin. The author balances an engaging narrative with history and an examination of political ideology, including the failures of said ideology.

What is perhaps also fascinating is that I found myself nearly sympathizing with the main character's journey including his critique
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have been an avid reader of East/West German fiction for a few years. It's hard to find a book which doesn't cast a predictable dark shadow across the memory of what it was like to live in the East.

The Bicycle Teacher is an altogether different and entirely refreshing perspective, written from the point of view of a disenfranchised teenage emigre, tired of what he feels to be the rat-race West. He pursues his love across the Iron Curtain and is given a second chance at life.

Firstly this is a t
Dec 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I got this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

The book started out with what felt to me to be a YA tone. This worked for the main character's age and perspective and I appreciated the familiar logic of a young person discovering the tenets of communism and thinking it would be a great idea. However, as the plot progressed and the YA tone did not evolve I found it to detract from the overall story. It felt like the character development and plot were held back by the tone and that the s
Bryan D.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For years I've wanted to teach a class (or lead a discussion group) on the idea of Conscience and Human Experience. The four books I would use for this group include Romain Gary's European Education, Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea, Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, and Petru Dumitriu's Rendez-Vous with the Last Judgment. Having read The Bicycle Teacher, I would add it to the reading list. An important book with a point-of-view not common in the West, The Bicycle Teacher explores the last ten years ...more
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Bicycle Teacher is the story of a young Australian, Michael Smith, who moves to East Germany in 1981 as a guest worker. He marries an East German girl and they make their life in East Germany. His life there was fulfilling and satisfying for him. He rose from a mechanic to an English teacher under their system. He loved his life in the GDR and thought communism was a perfect solution for his future. The fall of the Berlin Wall brought his happiness to a crashing halt. He hated West Berlin an ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent perspective from the other side of the wall. Michael is the son of a blue collar family in Australia who is dissatisfied with the "haves" and "Have-nots." While spending a summer in England and West Germany, he gets more disgusted with the capitalist system. When he meets a girl from East Berlin visiting family in the West, he falls in love with her and the ideals of Communism. This book focuses on his life in East Berlin and how he sees the best Communism has to offer while trying to ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. Took a bit of getting into and I did feel that the beginning (which was important to lay the context for the main body of the story) was a bit long winded and clumsy but once it got going was a great read. I don't state this just to be critical but as encouragement to other readers to stick with it.
I found the description of his life in East Berlin evocative and fascinating. What really impressed me was how so much of it seemed - to a relatively ignorant Brit - realisti
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
4,5 stars because while it's quite realistic, there's an exaggerated description of the good parts of communism and too little is said about what wasn't so good. I know what I'm talking about because I grew up in Hungary and I was a high school student when we opened our frontiers to Austria. Reading this book was like a journey to the past for me and I do have some nostalgy for the simplicity of that life but it isn't true that everyone was equal and had the same opportunities. There were alway ...more
Steve M
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. Fascinating subject and a story well told. i like the way the author structures his story telling around events and places. I loved the main characters journey through romance, to youthful idealism all the way to middle age acceptance. An uplifting tale of "what might have been" tinged in so many ways with some sadness. The historical narrative is evocative, bringing back memories of those eventful days but with a different spin than those of us in the "West" are used t ...more
Sarah-Jayne Windridge-France
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A really excellent read. Enlightening, educational and heartwarming.

I appreciated the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the characters and all their flaws.

Ultimately a love story, this book is so much more. A story of discovery, of relationships, of unity, of morals and of a country in economic turmoil and governmental segregation.

It's a tale of decision-making, of coming of age, of innocence and of guilt,with clear imagery and pacy story line throughout.

Paul Grant
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book catching the relationships between the different characters. The concept of a westerner going East in the 80s is unusual but this book deals with it superbly well. I did find myself shouting at the main character in his naivety in dealing with the East German authorities, but that is easy in hindsight. Well worth a read if you're interested in East Germany or the eastern bloc in general.
Noelle Walsh
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book was a pretty decent book. It isn't every day that I get to read a book that has this level of romance wrapped in politics and history. It is a book I would suggest to anyone interested. In my opinion this author is quite capable of keeping the reader interested until the very end.

*won on GoodReads First Reads*
Carlos Martinez
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
3.5. An interesting, thoughtful, entertaining novel about life in the GDR (East Germany) in the 1980s, presented in a refreshingly honest and balanced way. The writing felt a bit naive at times, it could do with a more thorough edit, and the protagonist's homophobia doesn't sit very comfortably. Overall a good read, however.
A fascinating insight into life in East Germany

I found this extremely interesting, as I could compare it with my experience in Czechoslovakia in the same period. It was surprising that the Ossies thought they were the best off in the Eastern Bloc. It was, of course, the Czechoslovaks! The atmosphere there was much better, although the same drawbacks existed in both countries.
Bryan Shepard
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book. I didn't know what to expect and I typically do not like books similar to this in terms of the romance. However, the history and political interests I have kept hooking me on the characters. I would recommend this good read and in fact already have to a few people. Cheers!
Louise Child
Interesting historically

This book was interesting historically but could do with a good edit .Unfortunately , the main character was very unlikable . He appeared particularly immature ,a bigot .He didn't like many people or places ,constantly reviling people in description of their appearance and character.His reverse snobbery was staggering .This marred the book for me .
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting read. Much historical background. Relationships explored. Interestingly written.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-read
This is a very interesting story that takes place in the 1980's. A young man from Perth, Australia meets and falls in love with a young woman from East Berlin. He is a very naive and not well-educated young man who knows very little about history and politics and decides that communism is the best system under which to live. While I really liked learning more about the history of the collapse of communism in East Berlin, I sometimes felt that the story lacked in emotional flavour. While the narr ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, finished
I received this book as a good reads first read giveaway and found it a fascinating read.
A classic love story boy meets girl, and they want to spend the rest of their lives together. However it is not quite so simple, as Michael Smith is an Australian and Kathrin lives in East Berlin.
But Michael is disillusioned with Australian life and feels comfortable in East Berlin when he visits Kathrin, and decides to make it his home. After the Berlin Wall falls in 1989 nothing seems the same and now with
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It started in the hills near Perth, where he was brought rather quietly and with little fanfare into the world. The farming area tucked in the south-west corner of Western Australia became forever his reference point, but even then the world seemed broad and large, with the fields of wheat stretching to the horizon. But the whole world could not simply have been a field of wheat. There had to be m ...more

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