“Reading, for the soul…”

Hello wonderful readers! Thank you for your patience whilst I finished my dissertation! I am so thankful for all my loyal followers and also my new ones I have acquired whilst I have been absent! WELCOME! I have lots planned for booksbeyondthestory.wordpress.com in the coming months! A competition, crime month, fantasy specials, the summer of love and lots more! I would also like to thank the authors who have contacted me about review requests! I better start reading!

I thought I would choose a dramatic book for my latest post. I have to say out of all the books that have shocked me, this story has to be the most chilling. ‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink is one of those stories that stay with you and perhaps pushes you to rethink your perspectives. Set out in 3 parts, a story spanning decades will toy with your emotions and wreak havoc on your heart.

In ‘Part 1’, we meet Michael, a 15-year old boy in West Germany. The year is 1958 and after suffering from a disease, he encounters an unusual woman named Hanna. A strange mental and physical relationship forms between Michael and 36-year-old Hanna. In all of this uncertainty though, their connection develops to where he reads to her often. However, one day Hanna leaves without telling Michael who is left confused and heart-broken. Believing he will never see Hanna again, he tries to move on with his life but finds relationships difficult having been affected by Hanna’s absence. BUT- one day she reappears in Michael’s life, in the most unexpected and shocking way.

I don’t want to post any spoilers of the novel as this book is unpredictable and heart breaking, so all I will say is that Hanna withheld a dark secret from Michael and her past comes back to haunt her. Michael has a constant inner-battle of morals which are continuously fighting with one another. Michael has to decide which side he is on, what is really wrong or right?

This novel sent physical chills down my spine. Not just the plot, but the way it is written. Michael’s character is complex; haunted by his adolescent years, he struggles to let go from Hanna who still has a hold over him. Love and morals are at war, secrets and lies are revealed and concealed. You can’t help but feel a deep sympathy for Michael where, by an off-chance meeting, his life was changed forever. I admired the way the book was written (first person) because although Michael tells his side of the story, his influence on your own opinions is minimal as he in turn changes his mind.

Hanna’s character is more so complicated. Here is a women who forms a strange relationship with a young boy and hides her dark past. Her actions and morals are both judged keeping you on the edge of your seat, begging for an answer. Her dignity is at risk and as a reader, you can’t help but be a part of Michael’s battle between right and wrong. Should we, the audience, feel sympathy for Hanna? Should we reconsider our emotions?

There is a ‘penny-drop’ moment in the novel which also sparks perspectives. Even after I had finished the book I still found myself changing my mind over the characters. A chilling and unnerving novel which questions everything you believe in. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes classic literature, but also for those who want to want to read something a little out of their comfort zone.

As always, Happy reading! Lx

  1. There is also a movie based on this book starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. I have seen the movie and to be honest, as far as ‘book to movies’ go, I was very impressed with the level of care not to derail from the novel too much. I recommend watching it! But I would suggest reading the book first!

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