I saw this movie in 2008 when it was nominated for Oscars. I loved it would be an understatement, it was that nice. Ever since i wanted to read this book and finally got my hands on it, But as i was reading i couldn’t stop thinking that movie was so better.
This book by Bernhard is written in 3 parts:
Part one: Where Michael is 15 and Hana is 30. How they meet and how their relationship blossoms over physical intimacy and love for books until one day she disappears without leaving any message.
Part two: After 10 years Michael meets Hana in a courtroom where she is undergoing a trial for her involvement in Nazi movement and Michael is a law student covering the trial. Hana takes all the blame and is sentenced to life only to protect her secret, to save herself from the embarrassment of illiteracy that no one knew but Michael eventually figures it out.
Part three: Hana is imprisoned and Michael is living a restless life. He doesn’t want to meet her neither he can forget her. Then he starts doing what they both used to do together. He tape records the books in his voice and sends them over to Hana in prison so that she could listen to what she couldn’t read.
This novel is the self-contemplation guide of Michael Berg. His guilt overriding his emotions, his guilt of not having saved Hana when he knew she was innocent, his desire to have had her in his life and not having allowed her to leave and then his guilt when he sends her the tape recorded books but never writes a letter to ask her about her well-being.
Hana in this novel is a strong women. She had led most of her life alone shifting from one place to another, doing odd jobs but never letting anyone know of her weakness. To escape the shame of illiteracy she even took the blame of a crime she never committed and ends up with a life imprisonment.
Is it so easy to give away your life just to protect your little secret? and what secret? That you can’t read and write.
Hana commits suicide the day before she is to be released . No one knows why she kills herself but Michael knows that he had let her down again and this time it took her life.
This is an extraordinary story but repetitive in emotion. I wish it was some 50 pages shorter.Read it if you have spare time and can get a hand me down copy.
**I wanted to read it twice before writing this review but couldn’t manage to complete it the second time. Movie was any-day better. Kate Winslet is amazing in the movie.