Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann
|Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris
|Summary: Unwanted attention is worse than no attention at all, as Stella is about to find out.
|Date: March 2015
|Publisher: Clerkenwell Press
|External links: Author's website
Stella lives an ordinary life in a small town in Germany. While her young daughter is at kindergarten, she works as a domiciliary nurse. After school and at the weekend she is for all intents and purposes a single mother, for her husband Jason works away a lot. We don't know if she is happy, per se, but she doesn't seem unhappy.
When a stranger appears, asking to talk to her, she becomes unnerved. She has never seen this man before and doesn't know what he wants. Nor does she care to find out. So she politely declines his advances and thinks nothing of it. But this new person in her life is not going away. He returns the next day and the day after that, trying to tempt her out. When she refuses, her makes his presence known through items left in her mail box, letters, notes, cards and gifts.
The title of Where love begins clashes quite drastically with the story. Where obsession begins might be more accurate, because this is no love you will be familiar with. It is odd, creepy, stalkerish. And intriguing. I really was interested to see where this went, but sadly the answer was not very far at all. Early on, Stella is reading to Ava and notes that her daughter is happiest with a story in which nothing actually happens. A story without a point…. Oh, the irony.
This is a translation from the German, and as someone fortunate to be fluent enough to read novels in that language too, I feel I should comment on this. I didn't forget during this one that I was reading a translation. It was a good effort, but a few things jumped out as being too literal, for example when someone says Till later which I assume was originally Bis später. I would tend to translate that as See you in a bit or See you later.
This is quite a short story, at under 200 pages, and the style is unique, quite staccato and matter of fact with observations. Why start a chapter with the fact that It started to rain when you can instead use a simple one word sentence, Rain? I quite liked this voice. It was efficient (dare I say Germanic?) and even though it played down a lot of the emotion, it was still clear to see Stella's torment at the intrusion on her otherwise ordinary life. I enjoyed this book but it was over before it really began. More a quick bite than a satisfying meal, this left me wanting more and slightly frustrated by the lack of closure.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. For more imported reading, After The Crash by Michel Bussi is fabulous!
You can read more book reviews or buy Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann at Amazon.com.
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