Wednesday, November 26, 2008

don't wait up

Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Review: The first two-thirds of this book were pretty good. We start with young Peter describing his childhood visits to his grandparents in Switzerland. His grandparents edit a series of light novels, one of which is the story of Carl, a German soldier, and his struggle to return home from the Russian front after WWII. Unfortunately, Peter has only the manuscript of the book, and the ending is missing. What happens when Carl returns home and finds his wife with another man and two small daughters? Does he stay and fight for his wife, or does he turn and leave? Peter is unable to find the book on his grandparent's shelves and forgets about it until he finds the manuscript again as an adult. Then he begins the quest to find the book so as to learn its ending.

The story of Peter's search for the book and it's author is quite interesting. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through, Peter makes a startling discovery about his father, who he had thought died in WWII. The rest of the book is about Peter's search for the truth about his father, not just what happened to him but why he disappeared. This story is much less compelling, and even bizarre in places. Schlink tenuously connects this search to Peter's interest in the Carl story, but neither the connection nor the individual stories are resolved.


C. B. James said...

Too bad about the shift. I loved his earlier book, The Reader.

mmz said...

Me too. And I just saw an ad for the movie!