This book sat on my bookshelf for years until I saw the trailer for the movie and it piqued my interest. It is a spare book which takes place in post-war Germany and is about love, sex, reading, loss and shame and gives the reader much to think about - the Holocaust, the sexual relationship between a very young boy and a woman, how much we reveal to others in relationships, and the shame and guilt of post-war Germany. But it's not a book that begs keeping and re-reading. I will likely see the movie to watch Kate Winslet bring Hanna to life on the screen.
One of my favorite things to do is read a book and then watch the movie version of it. This time around, I actually didn't know it was a book until after I had seen the movie. Well, this is the very first time that I can actually say I thought the movie was better than the book. I thought the movie was so powerful and passionate. There was an intensity to the movie that I just didn't get from the book. Maybe I would feel differently if I had read it first.
But, it was a great story. Even though the main character was a 15 year old boy (and towards the end, much older), I felt like I could relate to him, and I was really drawn into his experiences. I thought the story was an original concept, and as always, I love anything related to WW2.
Michael Berg is a 15 year old German boy, who falls ill from hepatitis and literally collapses in front of Hanna Schmitz, a woman in her early 30s who tends to him and sends him home. Later she becomes his lover, and then she vanishes. Years later when he sees her next, Michael is a law student and she is on trial for war crimes.
The Reader is an amazing work on so many levels - romantic, historic, psychological, philosophical, morality, even criminal justice, to name a few. The day I started reading this my aunt Harriet sent me an article she wrote about my Jewish great-grandmother having escaped Germany for America prior to the Holocaust, and about her family who perished in the camps. Harriet had an exchange student "sister" from Germany in highschool, and combined a visit to Grandma Sophie's birth home in 1975 with a reunion with her homestay sister. The two had a heated discussion about Harriet wanting to visit the concentration camps in Dachau, "Ika begged her not to go (her generation had not caused World War II and didn't want to be blamed for or even reminded of it)."
For me, this book really gives the Holocaust scale. I can clearly see how subsequent generations have been affected. And as an illustration as to how power of the written word can affect someone! I'm so glad I read this before seeing the movie, loved this book, love that it's written by a German judge.
I was very anxious to read this book before seeing the movie. Both have such wonderful reviews. I must say, I could not put it down once I got started. The prose is very well written. Schlink has a beautiful turn of phrase. However, I must say I didn't connect to either of the main character. I suspect that is not uncommon for the female lead, Hannah, but I wanted to like the young male character. I just couldn't bring myself to. But to have a great read despite that? Impressive.
This book had such a hold on me that I finished it in one day. The author captured my heart and made me feel empathy for Hanna despite the fact of her henious crimes. I, also, felt angry that she carried a secret that killed innocent people. I cannot wait to see the movie and how Kate Winslet brings to life this wonderful literary character and how the director brought to life this now beloved book.