When I enrolled for the bookcrossing bookring of this book, I thought it would be a book about books. Then I read in the summary that it was about a love story with a moral dilemma. What I found was not at all what I was expecting.
It is a love story, it is a book about reading and there are many books mentioned in it, but it is also something else, a gripping story about memory and guilt and how love interferes with it all.
A few years ago, there was a huge case here in Greece where the police, after many years of failures, managed (?) to find and charge a group pf terrorists who had caused many deaths during the 80’s. There were and there still are many doubts as to whether these were actually the people who had committed the crimes (none of them admitted to them, anyway) but something that had shocked us all was the fact that their families had hardly realized anything. I remember very well discussing it with my husband and how adamant he was: “ If I ever found out that you had done something so atrocious, I could never forgive you, I would abandon you without even thinking about it, and love wouldn’t interfere”. I, on the other hand wasn’t so sure about it… This book is narrated from the point of you of a man who seems to think the way I do.
This is the story of a teenager who falls in love with a woman quite older than him (about twenty years) has a very memorable relationship with her only to find out many years later, that this woman was an SS guard, in a concentration camp. Despite his shock and his own personal attempt to forgive his nation’s conduct during the war, he cannot get over his feelings for this woman. His following relationships with women, are never successful, he has been scarred forever by this first affair. In an attempt to get over his feelings he starts reading for her again and it seems this process allows him to find his own voice and become a writer, thus absolving somehow himself.
It is a beautiful book, that makes you wonder in every page, as Hanna did: “What would you have done?” It doesn’t give any answers, it doesn’t forgive, it tries to forget but memory is a tricky thing, it comes to nag you when you think it has gone forever. In general I like reading it, despite the difficult topics it deals with, or maybe because of them.
I didn’t want to read another love story, I’ve read one too many of them this summer. But it seems that love keeps coming up even in unexpected places, even when horror is so great you think love wouldn’t bloom. And yet it does…
Το βιβλίο μεταφράστηκε στα ελληνικά με τον τίτλο «Διαβάζοντας στη Χάνα» από τις εκδόσεις Κριτική.
Εδώ μπορείτε να βρείτε μια πολύ σύντομη συνέντευξη του συγγραφέα στη Λώρη Κεζά για το επόμενο του βιβλίο που έχει κι αυτό σχέση με την ανάγνωση.