The Reader

The Reader

3.72 (138,625 ratings by Goodreads)
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An exceptionally powerful novel exploring the themes of betrayal, guilt and memory against the background of the Holocaust. An international bestseller. For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. The woman in question is Hanna, and before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly, and terribly, it does - Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret. 'A tender, horrifying novel that shows blazingly well how the Holocaust should be dealt with in fiction. A thriller, a love story and a deeply moving examination of a German conscience' INDEPENDENTshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 20mm | 222.26g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 32 colour illustrations
  • 0753804700
  • 9780753804704
  • 8,496

Review Text

This novel has become famous as one of the most piercingly intelligent examinations of the dark cloud which still hangs over Germany - the cloud of guilt for the Holocaust, felt sometimes unconsciously by a generation whose parents or grandparents were, however indirectly, involved. After the Second World War, Michael, a German schoolboy, gets to know a woman bus conductor who seduces him and leads him into a world of joyous sensuality shadowed only by the uncertainty of her temper. She encourages him to read to her - and it is only when he realizes that she is illiterate that their relationship becomes a little clearer, but not more stable. They lose touch with each other, and when, as a university student, he attends a war crimes tribunal, he sees her in the dock. The story is almost simplistic, the narrative as clear and unsentimental as the style. The reader is drawn into the story slowly but powerfully, empathizing strongly with the narrator, Michael. The way in which he feels his way towards forgiveness not only for his former mistress, but for himself, is the kernel of an extraordinary book which weds philosophy and narrative seamlessly, clearly illuminating the tangled motives which lie behind our ignorance and our censure. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

Deeply moving, sensitive enough to make me wince, a Holocaust novel, but light years away from the common run -- Ruth Rendell Sunday Telegraph Schlink's extraordinary novel The Reader is a compelling meditation on the connections between Germany's past and its present, dramatised with extreme emotional intelligence as the story of a relationship between the narrator and an older woman. It has won deserved praise across Europe for the tact and power with which it handles its material, both erotic and philosophical Independent Leaps national boundaries and speaks straight to the heart ... a moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful work New York Times The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is the German novel I have been waiting for: it objectifies the Holocaust and legitimately makes all mankind responsible -- Sir Peter Hall Observer For generations to come, people will be reading and marvelling over Bernhard Schlink's The Reader Evening Standard Haunting and unforgettable Literary Review A stunning examination of evil, this novel explores crime and punishment, love and guilt, dignity and degradation. GOOD BOOK GUIDE [Schlink] explores the conflict between generations, wrestling with collective guilt and individual motivation. He examines the nature if understanding and tests the limits of forgiveness. He does these things with honesty, restraint and a moral precision both unsettling and rare. The result is as compelling as any thriller The Timesshow more

About Bernhard Schlink

Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany is 1944. A professor of law at Humboldt University, Berlin and Cardozo Law School, New York, he is the author of the major international bestselling novel and movie The Reader, short story collection Flights of Love and several prize-winning crime novels. He lives in Berlin and New more

Rating details

138,625 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 23% (31,625)
4 39% (54,479)
3 28% (38,808)
2 8% (10,794)
1 2% (2,919)
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