Bernhard Schlink. trans. from the German by Charlotte Collins. HarperVia, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-311292-6
Schlink (The Reader) returns with a nuanced portrait of an ordinary German woman who comes of age at the turn of the 20th century. Orphaned as a young girl, Olga Rinke is taken in reluctantly by her chilly paternal grandmother in Prussia. She becomes friends with Herbert Schroder, and by the time they’re in secondary school, she falls in love with him. Olga becomes a teacher and Herbert joins the army, serving in the Battle of Waterberg in 1904 Africa, and in 1914 he sets off to explore the Arctic. Olga continues teaching through both world wars, and in her 60s, at the end of WWII, she flees eastern Germany for Heidelberg, where she takes up work as a seamstress and befriends Ferdinand, the young son of the primary family for whom she works. In the 1950s, Olga supports Ferdinand’s teen rebellion—he reads Brecht and wears American-style blue jeans—and she tells him stories about Herbert’s adventures. The final section features passionate, undelivered letters Olga wrote to Herbert decades earlier, while he was off in the Arctic. While the two big reveals in the final section are strongly telegraphed, the more quotidien mysteries of Olga’s life will keep readers engaged. Readers who love rich character studies will want to pick this up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/12/2021
Release date: 09/21/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-06-311293-3
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-311294-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-84-339-8039-7
Hardcover - 978-7-5442-9635-9
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