“Literature keeps them in their places. I did not want to fall… Was that why I liked to read so much?
I could find people just where I had left them, catch them by the sleeve to prevent them from disappearing, keep my balance…
I still had whole libraries to read.”
-Gilles Rozier, Love Without Resistance
A bookworm protagonist with a colorful secret life during the Resistance is the main focus around which this novel revolves. It’s a good read. I managed to read it in under three hours. I was fascinated with the bookworm in him/her that made my fantasies all the more realizable in a tale as nice as his/hers.
It was not just an ordinary love story, for it also unveiled realities and captivating observations of a German tutor in the middle of a war.”By the time they gave him that medal no one could tell who had been a hero, who had been a traitor, who was cowardly or courageous. It was a time when people thought they saw in black and white, but they didn’t, they only saw grey; that was a night when all cats are grey.”
Who knew that such silent and calm waters can house a raging passion of fire with a Yiddish captive turned lover?
But then, when placed against the other stories I have read, it did not fan the flames of my mind as much as other stories have. It was, at most, a form of escapism where you will be momentarily cushioned by the story of the man/woman German tutor at a time of war. The fact the his or her gender is indeterminate is of notable interest to most book reviews.
What I did find fascinating is the play of language in their love story, where the Yiddish lover opened up his or her already voracious appetite for linguistics to become good at the Yiddish and German language at the same time. I personally felt a little frustrated at having to interrupt my reading to translate some German lines of text on the novel. If I were reading from the French side, I can usually do minor translations without interruptions. I am not familiar with the German authors lauded in the film as a backdrop to the love story with Herman the saved captive in the cellar, and some book reviews of the novel stated that Rozier violated the very essence of those name-dropped authors. I cannot form an opinion since I am quite a newbie to German literature, and I am more inclined to read the foreign languages that I understand to a certain extent.
Nonetheless, as the amateur to all things Germany/German, I enjoyed the book immensely and I finished it as a final hurrah for my reading overload weekend over the last two days. (But I think I’ll go back to focusing on English and French because I’ve invested quite a bit on the French language and I intend to brush up on my skills before I lose it completely.)