Book reviews


I read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink quite a while ago, and while I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the story, the plot and characters stuck in my head. I have to say the same thing about The Weekend. The characters are not very likeable and the story has some nastiness about it, so in this case I hope I won’t remember what happened for years to come.

The story begins with Jorg, a German terrorist, being released from prison after 25 years. Jorg’s sister Christine collects him, taking him for the weekend to her country home, a secluded, run-down place she bought with a former girl-friend. Christine has arranged for a group of their old friends to spend the weekend together in an attempt to help Jorg to find his way in society again.

The group are quite prickly, although they were friends and supporters of the terrorists back in their day. The characters have a hard time coming to terms with each other as they are today.

Jorg murdered four people, and seemingly feels no remorse, arguing that had his side won, the people he killed would have been considered casualties of war and that their deaths would have been for the greater good, rather than him being trialled for murder.

I don’t know anything about German terrorism in the early 1970’s when Jorg’s crimes would have taken place, or what they were fighting for, but the use of a character who is a writer telling the story of people who jumped from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks made me feel for Jorg’s victims rather than for Jorg, Christine and their friends. I found Jorg, Christine and the other characters to be unlikeable and their behaviour, unlikely.

Much of the character’s present-day behaviour made me feel uncomfortable, including the sexuality of a teenage girl who was staying with her parents over the weekend. I’ll spare you the details, but have come to the conclusion that some parents are much more liberated than other parents. The characters give each other a hard time about the past, almost in the manner of a mock-trial, but none of them seem truly remorseful for their actions, just jaded.

I think The Reader was a better book and more interesting than The Weekend, but will continue to read further works by this author.

Comments on: "The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink" (2)

  1. Sounds interesting! I remember the ’70s terrorism in Germany very well – the Baader-Meinhoff Group – though in retrospect I’m not sure I ever really understood what it was about. Anarchy, I think. I was at Uni not long after the biggest attacks with a girl who went to Germany and got arrested briefly – it turned out she looked like one of the wanted terrorists. The whole thing was terrifying for her, especially since she didn’t speak much German. I may have to read this one sometime…

  2. I think someone who was more familiar with the history would get more from this book. How frightening to be mistaken for a terrorist in a foreign country, it probably happens quite frequently now.

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