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Visitation
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2017 Book Discussions > Visitation - Background and General Chat (use spoiler tags) (Oct 2017)

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message 1: by Carol (last edited Oct 01, 2017 12:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments This thread is for background information on either Jenny Erpenbeck or Visitation, first impressions, reviews, comments on Erpenbeck's other works and any comments on the book that arise before you finish. Please use spoiler tags to conceal any plot points that aren't obvious from the synopsis, etc., or post any comments that include spoilers that aren't concealed in the "Whole Book" discussion thread.

Born in 1967 in East Berlin, Erpenbeck trained as a bookbinder, then read drama at Berlin’s Humboldt University and went on to study opera and directing. She is the daughter of the physicist, philosopher and writer John Erpenbeck and the Arabic translator Doris Kilias. Her debut novel, The Old Child, was published in 1999.

Visitation's central character is a lake-side grand house and its grounds, located in Brandenburg, the region just east of Berlin. The house is based on a summer house outside Berlin that had been in Erpenbeck's family’s possession from 1954 until 2002, when they lost it to the heirs of its wartime owners. Erpenbeck discarded her original plan - writing a non-fiction account of the house's history - and instead penned Visitation, the story of the house being occupied in succession by 12 occupants, over a period starting in the 19th century and ending with reunification and its aftermath - not exactly a typical approach to historical fiction. The gardener is the lone constant across owners, occupants, time.

The set-up is strikingly similar to our moderator’s pick, Simon Mawer's Booker-shortlisted The Glass Room, published in 2009, although Erpenbeck's novel was originally published in Germany in 2008 (and in English in 2010).

Several links to reviews and blogs I found interesting follow:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...
http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/bo...
http://quarterlyconversation.com/visi...
http://onewaystreet.typepad.com/one_w...

Who's planning to read and join the discussion? If you read the book prior to this discussion, feel free to join in whether or not you have time or interest in a re-read.

Share below your initial impressions, experiences with Erpenbeck's several novels, including this one and any other pertinent thoughts.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Carol wrote: "Who's planning to read and join the discussion?..."

I've been looking forward to reading this book for a long time, but it kept getting edged out of my TBR stack--glad to have this nudge to finally get around to it. I will be able to start this sometime at the end of the week, so I may be a little bit behind, but I'm definitely planning on tackling it.


message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert | 437 comments I'll definitely be reading it!


Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments @Bryan, Robert: excellent!

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On pages 15-16 of my version, there are references to Josef Thorak. I may be in the minority, since I was unfamiliar with him, but thought in any event other readers might find this article of interest.

http://www.renegadetribune.com/immort...


message 5: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 279 comments I'm hoping to join this read, but waiting for my library copy so may be a few weeks before I can start. Thanks for the links, Carol!


Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Kathleen wrote: "I'm hoping to join this read, but waiting for my library copy so may be a few weeks before I can start. Thanks for the links, Carol!"

Fingers crossed that your system works faster than anticipated. You're welcome!


message 7: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
I have read about 60% of the book. I have very mixed feelings about what I have read so far, but I will save my comments until the discussion gets going.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
I read this last year and I am looking forward to the discussion.


Beverly | 142 comments I am on p.70 and have settled into author's writing style.

I had not heard of this author before this book was nominated.
And one of book subscriptions sent Go, Went, Gone, the author's latest book translated in English.

I like the premise of the storyline revolving around a house. Brings to life the saying - "If walls could talk".

Also enjoying the use of the gardener as the "chorus".


message 10: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
Incidentally, since nobody else has mentioned it here, we did discuss another Jenny Erpenbeck book The End of Days last year.


Beverly | 142 comments Carol wrote: "@Bryan, Robert: excellent!

----

On pages 15-16 of my version, there are references to Josef Thorak. I may be in the minority, since I was unfamiliar with him, but thought in any event other read..."


Thanks for this information.


SueLucie | 33 comments I've been looking forward to reading this since it was chosen last month, just started it today.


message 13: by carissa (last edited Oct 04, 2017 12:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

carissa Still waiting for my hold number to come up at the library. I should have it before the end of the month...I hope so. It's my first Erpenbeck.

My copy of Glass Room has arrived, so I may start that first.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments carissa wrote: "Still waiting for my hold number to come up at the library. I should have it before the end of the month...I hope so. It's my first Erpenbeck.

My copy of Glass Room has arrived, so I may start tha..."


I hope so, too, Carissa. I'm looking forward to reading Glass Room, too, and comparing/contrasting both.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Any other first impressions? I'm finding that Erpenbeck's style is understated and every word counts. It requires me to read more slowly and thoroughly in order not to miss key points.


SueLucie | 33 comments I agree Carol, it's taking me some time to read carefully.


message 17: by Carol (last edited Oct 09, 2017 12:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Casceil wrote: "I have read about 60% of the book. I have very mixed feelings about what I have read so far, but I will save my comments until the discussion gets going."

Casceil - please share your thoughts in the Whole Book thread when you're ready. I'm looking forward to reading them and several readers have weighed in and are ready to engage.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2352 comments Carol, thanks for the links to the reviews - very interesting.

I finished the book this morning. While only 150 pages in length, it is not a quick read. I often found myself backing up to reread and flipping back to check on something. The author is very subtle and her writing requires that the reader pay attention.

I thought the book was brilliant. I see similarities to The End of Days and look forward to a discussion of that in the discussion of the book.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "Carol, thanks for the links to the reviews - very interesting.

I finished the book this morning. While only 150 pages in length, it is not a quick read. I often found myself backing up to reread a..."


You're very welcome, Linda. I had the experience as you - I needed to be fully focused and sometimes backed up a couple of pages to re-orient myself when I picked it back.

I haven't read The End of Days, but am intrigued. I hope you'll discuss those similarities on the Whole Book thread, when you have time.


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