Difficult to get into (about 100 pages), but worth it, once you do. I learned more about WWII reading this novel than I ever did in a history book (sadly). Hegi's characters drove home the pain of having war touch you personally, although you may not be politically involved. Her unique approach to the war descriptions was Shirley Jacksonesque - she presents rumors, bits and pieces, phrases -- and lets your mind assemble them into the horrors you already know took place. One by one, you are introduced to, grow to love, and read the fates of, each person in the main character's (Trudi's) life. Expect to form strong, sentimental attachments.
Every couple of years, I take 'Stones from the River' off my bookshelf and read it over again. I first heard about this book beacuse it was an Oprah's book club pick. 'Stones from the River' is about the life of Trudi Montag,a dwarf who is living her life in a small town in Germany. The book is from Trudi's childhood to her adulthood. She is such a great character and this book is an outstanding read. I wasn't disappointed at all. My favorite line from the book occurs when Trudi is talking to a man named Adolf, a Jew who is hiding in Trudi's house during WWII, and she is comparing the suffering that he and others Jews are going through to others and he tells her: "...But we can't do that-compare our pain. It minimizes what happens to is, distorts it. We need to say, yes, this is what happened to me, and this is what I'll do about it."
I got half way through and couldn't put it down! This Oprah Book Club book from 1997 is completely worth the read. It was very interesting and educational - letting you see the German view of WWII. I was, as many other reviewers, able to learn more about WWII than I had in school. I loved the character associations and seeing them 'grow' from childhood in the early 1900's to later on in life after WWII - seeing how they changed and how their families changed or were lost.
A book you won't regret getting into.
Recommendations by Oprah not withstanding, this book was not for me. It depressed me so profoundly my initial rating was "Hate it", however, I settled on a rating of "Didn't like it". Was it well-written? Even a dummy like me would have to admit the author produces a deep novel, too deep for my comfort. I was forced to recognize that many of the bullies, batterers, and bigots that inhabited that sorry moment in history - guess what - exist in our world today. Do I really want to know that? Not! In fact, like many of the book's sad victims of broken dreams, broken bodies, and broken souls, I just wanted to escape that kind of environment as fast as I could. Like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, I froze up and I could not put this book down until I had painstakingly plowed through it to the finish. Surprise - no happy ending. Well, back to my delightful historic romance novels where I can blissfully view the world through rose-colored fans, the bad guys always get caught and punished, the deformed are made whole once again, and lovers live happily ever after. Shallow me - but at least I won't have to take an anti-depressant! Please, some reader with more discriminating tastes than I, take this book off my Bookshelf soon - if not, I'm going to bring it to my nearest Used Bookstore and swap it for some light reading.
I almost gave up on this book until a fellow PBSer convinced me it really is a good book, and she was right it is. I am so glad I did not give up on it and read it all the way through. It really gave me a new perspective on how life was back then and the struggles people went through just to survive. It made me appreciate the freedoms I now have. It was well written, though a little confusing at times if you do not pay attention.