“The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink

Novel, 1995

A straightforward, first-person narrative of a young man who has an affair with an older woman with something of a history she’s not keen to share. Ultimately, this is a book about reactions to the Holocaust and feelings of desire, guilt and attempts to come to terms with and rationalise what happened and how people can deal with the aftermath and after effects. This is a book which swings from grief to kindness, to pathos, capturing and showing how individuals were caught up in history’s machinery, as well as ruminating on what happens to them afterwards. A hefty series of themes and events, all told quite deftly, simply and effectively.

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