1968 Austrian born author Arno Geiger is one of those fine writers, who allows his readers to discover three generations within an Austrian family. His descriptive and sharpened pen brought me back to my own German speaking world, the universe of my childhood.
The German language indeed favors precise descriptions, which is a permanent element of the book.
Swallowed resentment, a bitter sweet sense of humor, the evolution of three different generations, life and death are closely mixed up in Arno Geiger’s masterpiece that takes place in Vienna, Austria.
The book is puzzled into numerous parts, that go from 1938, tragic date of Hitler’s Anschluss to 2001. It all begins when Philipp Erlach inherits his grandparents’ house. Suddenly, as he decides to renovate his house and to get rid of some of its furniture, Philipp suddenly realizes that we live with the dead…some ghosts of the past seem to haunt his past and some closet skeletons seem to escape from his mind. The beauty of the book is that you will wander through the time- there seems to be no borders between present, past and future. You will meet sensitive and rough characters. The grandparents’ generations face a difficult political time… you’ll be invited to share some parts of Richard and Alma daily life…you’ll go through their life dramas, the loss of their kids, Otto and Ingrid. While Richard is opposed to nazism, Peter ( Ingrid’s future husband) was in the Hitlerjugend .
Richard never really granted Ingrid to date Peter, who didn’t seem to be able to stand on his own feet with his business…however, Ingrid’s stubborn character always rebelled against her father’s opposition and married Richard.
Despite the fact Richard never liked his step son, the couple’s kids, Sissy and Philipp will remain a bridge between the generations.
I like the way Arno Geiger described the frustration between couples, including the aldulterous relationship between Philipp and Johanna. His writing talent is also revealed in the sad revelation of Richard’s dementia that seems close to Alzeimer’s illness.
Philipp’s description of the workers he employs to renovate the house is quite funny.
If you’re fluent in German or a skilled German reader ( a good level of German is required), I’d strongly advice you to read this book. It is really worth it.
Copyright by Isabelle Esling
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