by Bernhard Schlink
Vintage Books, 1998.
This is a tremendous book that pulls in the reader, timidly at first and then full tilt
into an excellent story. Set in post war Germany, the book recounts the story of
15-year-old Michael Berg who becomes ill and is rescued by 30 something Hanna Schmitz who
later becomes his lover. Their affair ends when she disappears without a trace. The next
time he sees her he is a young law student and she stands accused of a terrible crime.
Michael relives his affair with Hanna while attending her trial and then becomes
reacquainted with her while she serves a lengthy prison term. The Reader is a tremendous
book, the story is moving, challenging and eminently readable. In the words of one
reviewer, “The reviewer’s sole and privileged function is to say as loudly as he is able,
“Read this” and “Read it again.” Do read it, you won’t be sorry.