After enjoying the experience of reading J.D. Salinger back to back together, we decided to keep our book club going. Courtney couldn't have chosen a better book than The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. In fact, i had loved the film version but never thought to read it's written form. I meant to bring this with me to keep me company on the plane, but the truth is-- i finished it long before my birthday trip. I couldn't put it down.
again, we each came up with a question for us to answer.
Jo asked, Schlink has been criticized for The Reader. Some say it is wrong of him to try to get people to sympathize with Hanna. Others say he is trying to downplay the culpability of the educated class. Still others think he is blaming Hanna's guilt on illiteracy rather than holding her accountable. Do you agree with any of these criticisms?
When i read this question, i automatically thought of the part in the book during the trial. Hanna asks the Judge what he would have done. When Michael questions why she would rather be exposed as a criminal rather than an illiterate, what he comes to believe (page 133) is how i felt. She was held accountable even at the very end. I think what she chose to do with her small earnings in prison shows that she knew what she had done-- intentionally or because of circumstance.
Courtney asked, Throughout the novel, Michael always makes note of Hanna's strength and strong physical presence. Do you think this was to build a strong description of her for us readers, or do you think it was to make her deterioration in prison and the sad ending more dramatic and sad?
Both. Definitely for the ending. Page 209, "As I looked and looked, the living face became visible in the dead, the young in the old. This is what must happen to old married couples, I thought : the young man is preserved in the old one for her, the beauty and grace of the young woman stay fresh in the old one for him. Why had I not seen this reflection a week ago? I must not cry."
My question was comparing the film version to the book. How did it measure up? Any big changes that you preferred from the book that the movie left out or vice versa?
I think the book was well adapted on the big screen. They could not have picked better actors to portray Schlink's characters which i believe may have made all the difference. In fact, i can't think of something the movie changed-- it was that well done.
Quotes that are dog-eared in my book:
"It is one of the pictures of Hanna that has stayed with me. I have them stored away, i can project them on a mental screen and watch them, unchanged, unconsumed. There are long periods when I don't think about them at all. But they always come back into my head, and then I sometimes have to run them repeatedly through my mental projector and watch them. " -p 62
"She also gave herself in a way she had never done before. She didn't abandon all reserve, she never did that. But it was as if she wanted us to drown together." -p 79
Once again, I enjoyed reading this much more with these two girls & i can't wait to see what they thought. Read Jo's answers here // Courtney's answers here.
I would definitely recommend both the book and the movie.