Due to work commitments (yay, and yet boo at the same time), I had to cancel our meeting in September. However, we all gathered in the autumn chill to discuss our latest book, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink as part of our “seen the film, not read the book” theme.
We welcomed two new members to book club this month – welcome Chloro and Giselle – and they bought exciting new insights and experiences to our discussion.
The average score for The Reader was a respectable 6.4. The main comments revolved around a lack of depth of character (it was an incredibly short read and therefore the reader never really had time to build a firm grasp on any of the characters). The fact that the film was so well produced carried a couple of our group through the book (myself included). While the premise of the book itself was seen as a little unrealistic, the group enjoyed the moral questions that it brought up. It made us questions our understandings of illiteracy and explore feelings of shame.
Hanna was the character that evoked the most discussion. Was Hanna a predator or whether she saw her role as “saving” the young people she took under her wing. As we know very little about her background, it’s hard to ascertain what her motives may have been. We talked about her lack of support system and how reading (or being read to) acts as a survival mechanism for her.
There was a long discussion on 2nd generation attitudes to atrocities (not only Germany, but we also discussed colonialism, Australia, South Africa…). I would go into the details but this is supposed to be a short recap – not an essay!
Finally, we talked about the ending of the book <<SPOILER ALERT>> Why did it end the way it did? Did Hanna feel that she didn’t deserve to be released? Couldn’t she face the thought of being free after all that time? Did she have a life to return to outside? Was she being rational?
So many questions, many of them unanswered, but a great discussion which I, sadly, had to bring to a close because, you know, school night and all that!