The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Part 2


Notice the movie-themed cover with an always lovely Kate Winslet. Part of my motivation for reading the book was seeing the movie ads and hearing about Winslet's Golden Globe for her role.

I have yet to see the movie, though I always appreciate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. I'm wondering if the movie can be as wonderful as the novel in this case, though.

Based on the viewpoint of post-WWII German Michael Berg, the book covers three periods in his relationship with Hanna. The first period is when an ill 15-year-old Berg has an affair with the 30-something Hanna. The affair abruptly ends with Hanna's disappearance. The second period is when Berg, now a law student, discovers Hanna is a defendant in a Nazi war crimes trial he's viewing as part of his classwork. The third, brief period is set 18 years after the trial ends.

This is the story, not so much of Hanna, as of Hanna's impact on Michael Berg and his life. From the beginning, Hanna is seen as she relates to Berg's life, not as a complex person in her own right. In a larger context, this is also the story of the impact of WWII on Germans either not born until after the war or not old enough to have been truly involved with what happened. What can they truly be expected to know and understand about what happened with the people in their lives during that time period?

My overall rating of The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is an A.

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