The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

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Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Bernhard Schlink

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Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany. He is the author of the internationally best-selling novel The Reader, which was an Oprah's Book Club selection. He lives in Bonn and Berlin.
Published May 1, 2001 by Vintage. 224 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, History, Romance, War, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for The Reader

Publishers Weekly

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Another in the spate of soul-searching post-Holocaust German novels that have made their way here, this elegant if derivative triptych chronicles the relationship of narrator Michael Berg, a young bourgeois man who becomes a legal historian, with working-class Hanna Schmitz, 20 years his senior a...

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The Telegraph

The degree to which she is guilty hinges on a question that Michael has knowledge of, and he has to decide whether or not to reveal their relationship as well as whether or not to intervene in the trial.

Dec 29 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reader

Suite 101

political spin, greed for gold, and worship of royalty.

Mar 02 2009 | Read Full Review of The Reader

The Bookbag

And yet with young Michael, Schlink shows the world a narrator who fits in with the distorted perception that people have of Germans.

Jan 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Reader Bestsellers

It deserves all the attention.ProsFast paced, easy to readIt will make you thinkWell written, well developed charactersConsSome people are uncomfortable with the moral ambiguityDescription'The Reader' by Bernhard Schlink was published in Germany in 1995 and the United States in 1997.Original Engl...

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We return in the next part of the book, briefly covering the years till Michael, now a law student, meets Hanna at the trial for her part in a war crime.

Jul 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Reader

Chicago Tribune

Adapted by David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry, Hare's colleague on the portentous film version of "The Hours," "The Reader" risks fraudulence the second Winslet's Hanna scoops up the ailing Michael (he has scarlet fever in the film, hepatitis in the book), points to the tub in her stern li...

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London Review of Books

She lives alone, and Michael visits her every day after school.

Mar 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Reader

Buried Under Books

When 15-year-old Michael Berg discovers an older woman willing to become his lover, he thinks he’s the student.

Feb 26 2010 | Read Full Review of The Reader


The Reader was experienced traveling by train through Europe, and recalled when faced with the ‘Topography of Terror’ monument in Berlin (the site of the SS headquarters), and Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam.

Mar 06 2008 | Read Full Review of The Reader

The Blurb

Hanna and Michael easily slip into a daily routine of bathing together, making love, then ending with Michael reading the German classics aloud to Hanna.

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 27 Jan 2014

Added the book to want to read list