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THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART Reviewed by Monica G.
This summer, as I was leaving France, my sister gave me THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck. Mind you this is a sister who usually reads books on art and philosophy, making the world a better place, and enjoys books on enlightenment, so I did not know what to expect.
THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck was haunting and stayed with me continuously. When I set it down I couldn't wait to pick it up again and I almost seemed to live it.
The book has been translated from German. It is well written but there are places that are uneven - although it does not affect the "feel" of the book.
The location is Germany between two world wars. It begins very poignantly with the main character Helene, a nurse, the hardships she endures, and the abandonment of her son at a train station. It is a dramatic and emotionally charged start and your feelings go out to the young boy who is emotionally attached to his mother. What would lead a mother to do that?
The book then goes back in time and looks at her life.The girls are "rescued" by a very liberal aunt who invites them to live with her in Berlin. Even though they escape their small town, they always retain a strong sense of duty towards their mother.
Martha, her sister, is a story in its own right. She is beautiful. She can't wait to leave her rural town. She becomes a nurse who becomes addicted to drugs and is gay. The sisters' relationship borders on being incestuous.
You get a look into pre WW II Berlin and the social scene of the times. Roaring Berlin and its permissiveness. Even though it is set in political times unlike many books centered on that era, it does not delve into politics but focuses on the characters. You are almost living Helene's emotions.
I can see this book being a Book Club selection. There is so much to discuss.The political background, the relationship of Helene and Martha's parents, the mental illness of her mother, the relationship of the two sisters. The character and lifestyle of the permissive aunt... Helene's loves and her losses, marriage to a German engineer who constantly reminds her she is half Jewish.
Most importantly though, the abandonment of Helen's son and its effect on him. When I researched this book after reading it, I discovered that the book was based on Julia Franck's father and his abandonment by her grandmother. Maybe it is so emotionlly charged, because it was so personal.
THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART has won several awards and in 2010 was listed in "The 1,000 books to read before you die."*
I can see why.
Another book bearing the same title was written in 1999 by a different author, Michael C. White.
THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck is not available in ebook but can be ordered in paperback on Amazon.
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For more information about author Julia Franck : http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Franck
|AUTHOR JULIA FRANCK|
*"1000 Books to Read Before You Die"
According to GOODREADS, the website for readers, it's an eclectic mix, ranging from THE HOBBIT by J. R. R. Tolkien to THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT by Mark Haddon. The list usually includes something from every genre depending on the list.....
For more list details: http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/1000-books-to-read-before-you-die