Book reviews


I’ve been reading novels by Bernhard Schlink since coming across The Reader some time ago, hoping for another book by this author which would live up to that extraordinary story. The Woman on the Stairs was just okay. Maybe nothing else this author writes will ever be as good as The Reader.

The Woman on the Stairs has a coldness to it. I didn’t care about the characters or their story. The story was written in German and translated into English, so the feel of the book may have changed with the translation, unless that was the author’s intention and the characters were not there to be cared about.

The story with a German businessman having finished his business in Sydney, when he goes to the Art Gallery of NSW and sees a painting of a woman he has been in love with his whole life after knowing her very slightly in his youth. Back when the German businessman knew the woman, he helped her to steal the painting from her husband, who owned the painting, and from her lover, the artist who painted it. The woman then disappeared with the painting.

The German businessman (he was un-named) paid a detective to track down the painting’s owner and was not at all surprised to learn that the woman was the owner and that she was living a remote hermit’s life somewhere north of Sydney.

He delayed going home to Frankfurt to visit the woman, but was surprised when she turned out to be forty years older than he remembered her, (so was he, but she instantly recognised him) and dying of cancer. The artist and the woman’s former husband turned up at her home too, although it wasn’t clear if they wanted her or the painting.

I did finish the book, but I forget what happened next.

The translation annoyed me, as some of the words weren’t right for an Australian setting. One example which I remember was the use of ‘wildfire’ instead of ‘bushfire.’

I really must get around to watching the movie of The Reader sometime. That was an amazing story. I think I’m probably done with Bernhard Schlink otherwise.






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