This is an odd novel, which makes sense, since it was left unfinished at the author’s death. It is a blistering look at economic inequality, set in Austria after WWI and examined through the stories of characters whose circumstances appear to prevent them from ever getting ahead.
Christine is a young woman who was born middle class, but has lived a life of drudgery since her teenage years, when her family lost both money and menfolk to the war. Out of the blue, a rich American aunt invites her to spend two weeks in a Swiss resort, where she flourishes. But on returning home, she is left hating her working-class life, and soon meets a disaffected war veteran who, through many long speeches, provides the intellectual basis for her discontent.
The first half of the book was a lot of fun to read; after an initial slow start, I was quickly absorbed by the story and eager to learn what would happen next. The second half is interesting and brings Zweig’s themes to the forefront, though it is much darker. The end is ambiguous, leaving the characters’ fates up in the air. It is well-written and engaging throughout. The characters feel three-dimensional and realistic, though I wondered in the second half whether Christine is representative of the way an actual Austrian woman in the 1920s would have thought, or only the way a man at the time would have envisioned one (to her, even an active decision to have sex is necessarily an act of submission, and she claims that as a woman she can’t undertake bold action herself, though she can do anything if following her man). And there are a few rough edges and loose ends: I wondered what Christine could have talked about to the moneyed international jet set, which she does constantly and with great animation; without TV or Internet, and without revealing any details of her life, they seem entirely without common ground. I also wondered why she never thought about following up on
the older man who was interested in marrying her; she may not have realized that, but he stood by her and invited her to visit his castle,
which she for some reason never considered as an option later.
But at any rate, this is a short novel and a very engaging read. It moves fairly quickly and the translation is excellent. A pleasant surprise.
I read Ghost Waltz: A Family Memoir by Ingeborg Day on recommendation from a patron. She assured me that I would love it and that it was right up my alley as it was a nonfiction book that covered events from WWII. What hooked me into reading it was that it was covering the events of WWII from the perspective of someone who was on the 'other side' aka the Nazi perspective (as opposed to the 3rd person nonfiction narrative or survivor memoir). Ingeborg wanted to uncover the secrets of her father's past and hopefully work out exactly what his role was as a member of the Nazi Party and SS. She revisited old memories of times spent living in shared accommodation with other families, rationing, and the charged silence around the dinner table. She continually reiterated that she had no memories of her parents ever saying anything about Jewish people or showing any violence whatsoever toward anyone...and yet the undertones of the book were very anti-Semitic. I honestly found this a very uncomfortable book to read especially considering that she seemed to vacillate on her own beliefs and feelings towards those who were slaughtered en masse while her father served as a member of the Nazi party. (Her conflicting beliefs made this a very disjointed read.) For those interested in knowing just what his role was and his innermost beliefs, you will be sorely disappointed. There is no clear cut conclusion to be found among the pages of Ghost Waltz. The author herself couldn't seem to work out her own feelings much less those of a man who she had no contact with as an adult (there was an event after she left home which led to a rift). This wasn't my favorite read of the year for multiple reasons but mostly for those stated above: anti-Semitic sentiment and unsatisfactory conclusion. It's a 2/10 for me. :-/
W październiku zeszłego roku niemiecka sieć Aldi rozpoczęła sprzedaż książek elektronicznych na rynku niemieckim. Powołano w tym celu księgarnię internetową Aldi life eBooks. Teraz przyszedł czas na rynek austriacki w postaci sklepu „Hofer life”, który ma ofertę podobną do niemieckiego pierwowzoru. Od dziś w ofercie sieci handlowej znajduje się tablet Medion E6912, wyposażony m.in. w aplikację do czytania książek oraz odtwarzania strumieniowego muzyki (Napster). Do oferty dołączono też bon 10 EUR na zakupy e-booków w firmowej księgarni. Sprzęt będzie oferowany za niecałe 100 EUR, czyli o 30 EUR taniej, niż pierwotna cena w RFN. Więcej szczegółów na jego temat podałem przy okazji premiery usługi (wpis: „Aldi life eBooks - niemiecka sieć sklepów wchodzi na rynek e-booków”).
Hofer Life - austriacka wersja księgarni sieci Aldi (źródło: https://www.hoferlife.at)
Aldi (w Austrii występujący jako Hofer) to mocna marka na rynku niemieckim. Można się spodziewać, że firma będzie się starała wykorzystać przywiązanie klientów, wychodząc poza tradycyjną ofertę. Być może efekty działania księgarni w RFN są na tyle zachęcające, że firma zdecydowała się przejść na kolejny rynek. Szkoda, że wciąż z tym samym tabletem, a nie ciekawym czytnikiem...
Tablet Medion od dziś w promocyjnej ofercie na terenie Austrii (źródło: https://www.hofer.at)