Last week I finished The Reader. A powerful, profound, thought-provoking book by Bernard Schlink that was turned into a film starring Kate Winslett. It’s about a 15 year old German boy in post WWII Germany who falls in love with a woman twice his age. She has skeletons in the cupboard relating to her past life in the SS.
Of course, people experience things differently. I saw it as a love story but a colleague at work thought it was about child abuse. It unnerved me that Michael could never, ever move on from Hanna. Was he scarred for life or was it that they were meant to be together? For him, their ‘connection’ was deeper and more profound than any other he would make. He had other women, was even married, but all seemed insignificant compared with Hanna. In so many ways they were badly matched (not least because she was twice his age); but a connection is a connection.
The story touches on a lot of issues and raises a lot of questions. Guilt, literacy, forbidden love, history, morals, skeletons in the past, etc.
That first chance encounter changed the entire course of their lives, especially his. Life is strange like that. The ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. A concept I have always found difficult to get my head around. How life can take drastically different directions based on tiny differentials.
A highly recommended read. A good article here in the New York Times, too.