The Reading Group Reads
The Reader by Bernard Schlink
We few, we happy few, had such a good discussion about this book. There is so much to chew on. It is as though Schlink has written the book to bring into the public arena what he considers to be a major problem, when the vast majority of people are doing their utmost to avoid the issue. The uncomfortable issue is to get his countrymen to address their part in their nation's past: his problem was how to do so without alienating those very people. And he does it excellently, enticing readers with his skills of characterisation, plot and that ability to create vivid visual scenes in one's mind. (The book is translated from the original German, and this sometimes shows but not enough to intrude.)
He leads you sensitively into Michael's adolescent experiences; the ordinary and the extraordinary until you are totally involved. And then the sudden change of scene which creates the moral conflict which is the heart of the book.
The problem Schlink takes on is a national and a major dilemma which he addresses through the personal perceptions of the two main characters. This takes the issue straight into the heart of every reader: it helps us to examine our preconceptions; and, on a much more personal level, how we ourselves deal with those things which we all do which are not always moral, right or good.
This makes the book sound a heavy read but it's not. It's beautiful, sensitive and enticing, drawing one easily into its pages, and ultimately it's deeply moving and optimistic in the understanding it gives: an excellent read.
Next month we are reading "Sons and Lovers" by D H Lawrence
We will meet at Kent House on Wednesday 3th June at 8 o'clock. Do try and make it.