Monday, November 2, 2009

The Reader and The Book Thief

Rather than give excuses about why I haven't posted for so long, I'm going to say 4 words - we bought a house. And leave it at that. I've been very busy!

So we had our next Book Club meeting a few weeks ago at Jo's house, hosted by me. It was a long time coming, as we scheduled, rescheduled and rescheduled and we just couldn't agree on when to meet because someone was going away and this person was doing this or that or whatever. And in the end Britt helped me decide by telling me that Johnny's transfer had come through and he and Alice were leaving. So we made it for the weekend before she left and there were only a few of us - myself, Britt, Jo, her mum Jennifer and Alice. Bec and Lisa were both away, in fact, I haven't seen them for months so I don't know if they even got the email about reading The Reader or have started on the next book yet. It had been about 2 months since our last meeting.
Jennifer couldn't get into the book so hadn't read it, but the rest of us had and we all seemed to enjoy it. I liked how it was such a short book but packed a lot of punch. The story is based around a teenage boy who meets an older lady one day, Hanna Schmidt and they begin an affair. He begins to read to her during their meetings and falls in love when inexplicably one day, she is gone. Years later as an older student, he is stunned when attending the Nazi trials for inhumane treatments to the Jews, that Hanna was being tried for being a German guard being held responsible for the deaths of over a hundred people in a fire. Refusing to admit she cannot read or write, she takes the blame and is sentenced to prison, and he sends her books on tape while there, which she uses to teach herself to read and write. They meet again as adults, upon her imminent release back into the world she doesn't really want to be in anymore.
The writing was well done and I also watched the movie soon after, which jarred my memory of it when attending the meeting, but this was also because it had been over a month since I'd read it by the time we met. I really enjoyed the movie of course because it starred Kate Winslet, who's a very giving actor and I felt it followed the book well. But nothing can beat a good story and I would recommend this book highly.
Jo has picked our next book, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. She had reread it recently and loved it. It's a really popular book and I'd tried reading it years ago, only to give up after the first few pages as it was really hard going. Britt has mentioned the same thing when I've seen her, so I was trying to finish the great book I was reading (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle) so I could get onto it before our next meeting on the 15th. I've just started it about 5 days ago and am happily engrossed so far, about 100 pages in. The story is about a young girl in Hitler's Germany (yes, the Holocaust again) who craves knowledge and how she obtains the books that are so important to her. It's actually written from the point of view of Death, as in, He first saw her when coming to take her brother and kept an eye on her, being very busy when Hitler first started 'cleansing' Germany. He sees her steal a book from a book burning held by Hitler's youth. Good stuff so far. I'll keep you posted.
And I was devastated to see an ad on TV this morning for the new movie 'The Time Travelers Wife'. I sat there quite stunned for a few seconds, wondering why it bothered me? Because from the ad, it looks okay; it stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, both actors I like. But I'm not sure they'll be able to convey Henry's tired, helplessness at his uncontrollable time travel and Clare's ultimate contentment at being mostly alone. It looks very... relationship-ey, rather than concentrating on the journey of what happens to him which I found fascinating. I'll watch it for sure at any rate, so we'll see.
Okay, am off to read more. And see what Death has to say on Leisel's latest book.... TTFN.