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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' INDEPENDENT SATURDAY MAGAZINE
Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher and industry reviews
"A stunning examination of evil, this novel explores crime and punishment, love and guilt, dignity and degradation." GOOD BOOK GUIDE
UK Kirkus review
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)
About the author
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 York.
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