The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

About the Book:

Translator: Carol Brown Janeway
Publisher: Vintage Books
Language: English (originally German)
No. of pages: 226 in kindle | 240 of Paperback
Year of Publication: 2001 (first published 1995)
ISBN: 9780307454898

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Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror, and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

About the Author:

Bernhard Schlink is a German jurist and writer. He became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1988 and has been a professor of public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany since January 2006.

His career as a writer began with several detective novels with a main character named Selb--a play on the German word for "self." In 1995 he published The Reader (Der Vorleser), a partly autobiographical novel. The book became a bestseller both in Germany and the United States and was translated into 39 languages. It was the first German book to reach the number one position in the New York Times bestseller list. 

My Views:  

I watched the movie first and then decided to read the book. As it is in most cases the book is better than the movie. As it has been mentioned in the book details, ’The Reader’ was originally written in German and translated to English; I wonder whether anything was lost during the translation. Nevertheless, the end result is a good read. 

The flow of the story is good. Language simple. The impact Hanna has on Michael’s life makes us stop and think. It lingers in the mind after the book is finished. 
We all have someone in our lives who leaves an everlasting impact on our mind, which changes the course of our life, change the way we think and the way we face life.

Hanna’s role in the said hideous crime made me wonder whether the secret she kept was worth all the things she went through in her life. It is difficult to think from someone else’s perspective; so is the case with Hanna.

The awkwardness mentioned when Michael meets Hanna later in life is well-written. The part describing Hanna’s fate seemed a bit abrupt and disappointing to me.

Overall, the book is a good read. Not easy and light read, though. If you want to skip reading the book you can watch the movie, it does do some justice to the book as compared to the many in the list of novel based movies.

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