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Reader (Schlink)

The Reader
Bernhard Schlink, 1995
Knopf Doubleday
224 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780307473462

Summary
The Reader is both a literary surprise and a moral challenge: a riveting, provocative, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a passionate, clandestine love affair with an older woman, and what happens to them both when the secrets in her past are revealed.

Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on the way home from school. A woman takes care of him. Later, the boy arrives at her home with a bunch of flowers to thank her. And then comes back again. Hanna is the first woman he has ever desired. But there is something slightly off-key about her. His questions about her family and her life go unanswered. One day Hanna simply disappears.

Michael's life goes on, but he can't forget her. 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 so passionately is a criminal. Much about her behavior during the trial makes no 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. As the past erupts into the present — both Michael's past with Hanna, and the past of Germany itself — Michael must accept that he will never be free of either of them. (From the publisher.)

The 2008 film version of The Reader stars Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.




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