The Reader

By Bernhard Schlink, Carol Brown Janeway

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the ethical claims it makes upon the reader, this captivating novel is a narrative of affection and secrets and techniques, horror and compassion, unfolding opposed to the haunted panorama of postwar Germany.

When he falls unwell on his means domestic from university, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by means of Hanna, a girl two times his age. In time she turns into his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. while Michael subsequent sees her, he's a tender legislation pupil, and she or he is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to guard her innocence, Michael progressively realizes that Hanna will be guarding a mystery she considers extra shameful than homicide.

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She stuffed the bathtub, installed a couple of drops of lavender oil, and washed me. She wore her light blue flowered smock with out lingerie beneath; the smock caught to her sweating physique within the sizzling, damp air. She excited me greatly. once we made love, I sensed that she desired to push me to the purpose of feeling issues I had by no means felt sooner than, to the purpose the place i may not stand it. She additionally gave herself in a manner she had by no means performed ahead of. She didn’t abandon all reserve, she by no means did that. however it used to be as though she sought after us to drown jointly. “Now visit your pals. ” She disregarded me, and that i went. the warmth stood solidly among the constructions, lay over the fields and gardens, and shimmered above the asphalt. i used to be numb. on the swimming pool the shrieks of enjoying, splashing little ones reached me as though from a long way, far-off. I moved in the course of the international as though it had not anything to do with me nor I with it. I dived into the milky chlorinated water and felt no compulsion to floor back. I lay close to the others, hearing them, and located what they acknowledged foolish and unnecessary. ultimately the sensation handed. ultimately it become a typical afternoon on the swimming pool with homework and volleyball and gossip and flirting. I can’t keep in mind what it was once i used to be doing while I regarded up and observed her. She used to be status twenty or thirty meters away, in shorts and an open shirt knotted on the waist, me. I regarded again at her. She was once too distant for me to learn her expression. I didn’t bounce to my toes and run to her. Questions raced via my head: Why was once she on the pool, did she are looking to be visible with me, did i would like to be visible along with her, why had we by no means met one another unintentionally, what should still I do? Then I stood up. And in that briefest of moments within which I took my eyes off her, she was once long gone. Hanna in shorts, with the tails of her shirt knotted, her face grew to become in the direction of me yet with an expression i can't learn at all—that is one other photograph i've got of her. bankruptcy SEVENTEEN subsequent DAY she was once long gone. I got here on the traditional time and rang the bell. I seemed throughout the door, every thing seemed how it consistently did, i'll pay attention the clock ticking. I sat down at the stairs once more. in the course of our first few months, I had continuously recognized what line she used to be engaged on, even supposing I had by no means repeated my try and accompany her or maybe choose her up afterwards. at some point soon I had stopped asking, stopped even puzzling over. It hadn’t even happened to me formerly. I used the phone sales space on the Wilhelmsplatz to name the streetcar corporation, used to be transferred from one individual to the subsequent, and eventually was once informed that Hanna Schmitz had now not come to paintings. I went again to Bahnhofstrasse, requested on the carpenter’s store within the backyard for the identify of the landlord of the development, and bought a reputation and tackle in Kirchheim. I rode over there. “Frau Schmitz? She moved out this morning. ” “And her furnishings? ” “It’s no longer her furnishings. ” “How lengthy did she reside within the house? ” “What’s it to you? ” the lady who have been chatting with me via a window within the door slammed it close.

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