Book Review – The Reader By Bernhard Schlink

I first read this book a little while ago but after listening to the author answer questions on a BBC radio programme I picked it back up and re-read it.

For anyone who has not read the book or seen the subsquent film it is the story of a young man, barely fifteen at the beginning of the book, who meets by chance an older woman with whom he has a passionate affair.  Suddenly one day she simply disappears.

The story moves forward in time and the young man now married finds his self staring at his old lover in court.  She stands charged with horrific crimes during the Second World War, the book examines how this type of information affaects those who form bonds prior to the revelation and how they come to terms with the actions of loved ones.

I have to say I loved the book and would give it 4.5 stars out of 5 it drops half a mark as it is written from the young mans point of view, and does not really give enough of Hanna’s reasons to allow the reader to know whether her reasoning could have influenced his feelings more in any given respect.

But the main thing I loved about this book was that it made me stop and think not just about the holocaust but about human relationships in general.  We have all heard of the sins of the father being delivered upon the son, but what about the grandson and generations to follow?  Does what someones ancestor did in the past affect how you feel about someone?  How much does DNA now play in the nature vs nurture debate?

I look at those around me I love and care about and wonder what would need to be lurking in their past before it changed how I felt about them? While I would love to say that nothing would a small part of me still questions how I would feel if my other half had a mass murderer as a relation a couple of generations back or a child molester, though I know him would I start to wonder about whether something dark lurked in his genes?

I would love to hear your thoughts as always.


8 thoughts on “Book Review – The Reader By Bernhard Schlink

    1. Thats what struck me my grandad was in a prisoner of war camp but I started thinking about the things that happen in war and in normal life aswell and whether if knowing your relative did something would change how you felt about them or one step further would knowing what was in someone elses heritage affect how you think about them now,


    2. ps just read your review loved it i tend to avoid doing the proper book review thing and generally talk about how it made me feel or what thoughts it provoked as blogs like yours do the review so much better


  1. I read this when it was new and then went on to read ‘Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ (children’s book – but still a fantastic read). After talking about the book to others who had read it, I learned that there was a bit of a divide over the integrity of Hanna. Some thought she was wrong for seducing… is it Michael? and thought she was manipulative and evil. Others like me just didn’t see it that way. I thought she was quite vulnerable and just a victim of her time (and country). I can see how some would see the other argument – but how can I go against someone with the same first name as me?!


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