The Taste of Apple Seeds: A Novel

( 3 )

Overview

The internationally bestselling tale of love, loss, and memories that run deep

When Iris unexpectedly inherits her grandmother's house in the country, she also inherits the painful memories that live there. Iris gives herself a one-week stay at the old house, after which she'll make a decision: keep it or sell it. The choice is not so simple, though, for her grandmother's cottage is an enchanting place, where currant jam tastes of tears, sparks fly from fingertips, love's ...

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The Taste of Apple Seeds: A Novel

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Overview

The internationally bestselling tale of love, loss, and memories that run deep

When Iris unexpectedly inherits her grandmother's house in the country, she also inherits the painful memories that live there. Iris gives herself a one-week stay at the old house, after which she'll make a decision: keep it or sell it. The choice is not so simple, though, for her grandmother's cottage is an enchanting place, where currant jam tastes of tears, sparks fly from fingertips, love's embrace makes apple trees blossom, and the darkest family secrets never stay buried. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Hagena writes in sensual, poetic prose, bringing a fairy-tale quality to her gothic tale of family secrets and deceits.”
RT Book Reviews
“[This] almost has a magical feel to it, and many will find it to be extremely moving and thought-provoking. This hidden gem is utterly engrossing
The Times (London)
“This melancholy novel about lifting the layers of history is packed with gorgeous imagery and undertones of buried secrets...Sultry, tragic and intensely atmospheric.”
The Independent
Beautifully phrased, artful and sometimes ingenious...The Taste of Apple Seeds is atmospheric and sensual...Hagena ingrains the creaking old house—and the book—with melancholy; every word, every place is weighted with memories.
Sunderland Echo
Hagena’s sensitivity and attention to detail, and a narrator whose honesty and comical clumsiness keep the story light and engaging, have universal appeal.
Le Nouvel Observateur
The Taste of Apple Seeds is a pure masterpiece. Germany has had a triumph with the debut of this unknown author last year.
Elle (FR)
Between the lines, you smell the odor “of apples and old stones”...You eat her apple entirely, even with the apple seeds.
Notes Bibliographiques
Trespassing from emotion to tenderness, from laughing to tragedy. Katharina Hagena retraces subtly the destiny of each of her characters who are all related to each other. In a fluid and delicate writing style she intertwines remembering and forgiving, a moving story.
Ballarat Courier
“There is an enchantment about this book which is almost like a fable...With seamless flash-backs Katharina Hagena retellst he story of this friendship.”
Daily Mail (London)
“Intriguing and carefully written.”
Good Housekeeping
“Unbearably moving but ultimately uplifting.”
Irish News
“Hagena’s sensitivity and attention to detail, and a narrator whose honesty and comical clumsiness keep the story light nad engaging, have a universal appeal.”
Metro London
“The book works a slow charm as Iris chronicles the love life of one aunt after another.”
Saga Magazine
“It’s easy to see why this riveting gothic saga spent two years on the German bestseller list.”
The Independent
Beautifully phrased, artful and sometimes ingenious...The Taste of Apple Seeds is atmospheric and sensual...Hagena ingrains the creaking old house--and the book--with melancholy; every word, every place is weighted with memories.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-17
From German author Hagena, the story of a young German woman whose inheritance of her grandmother's house leads her to plumb her family's past. This book was an international best-seller. In Bulloch's translation from the German, nature imagery is colorfully transcribed, which is fortunate, since Hagena's descriptions of the lake, forest and gardens surrounding the ancestral apple farm of the Deelwater family are among this novel's principal charms. Bertha, the matriarch, who survived her husband, Hinnerk, by many years--most of them in a state of steadily worsening dementia--has died, willing portions of her estate to her three daughters, Inga, Harriet and Christa, and, unexpectedly, bequeathing the farmhouse to Christa's daughter, Iris, the narrator. As Iris, a librarian, takes time off to decide whether or not to keep the house, her recollections and encounters with denizens of the tiny lakeside village of Bootshaven shape the novel. Family secrets are mulled over as Iris' consciousness, searching for clarity, circles back repeatedly to crucial events she witnessed as a child. Herr Lexow, elderly caretaker of the farm, confesses that he might have fathered Inga during World War II while Hinnerk was off at his job as a prison camp commandant. (Hinnerk's checkered past with the Nazi Party is not a major aspect of the novel--the primary focus is on the women's comparatively sheltered lives.) Whimsy abounds, striking a discordant note with the overall meditative tone of the book--for some reason, Iris' wardrobe is limited to old ball gowns once belonging to her aunts; she and Bertha's lawyer, Max, meet cute while swimming naked in the lake; and Aunt Inga, born during an electrical storm, cannot touch anyone without shocking them. Aunt Harriet, now a devotee of an Indian guru, had her heart broken, and the child born of this liaison, Rosmarie, died under circumstances not fully elucidated until the novel's climax. Since much of the nuanced wit is perhaps lost in translation, what remains is a decorative but aimless family chronicle. Matriarch Bertha's decline is, however, viscerally felt and vividly detailed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062293473
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 364,219
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Katharina Hagena is the author of On Sleep and Disappearing. She lives in Hamburg, Germany.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    THE TASTE OF APPLE SEEDS is a story infused with life, longing,

    THE TASTE OF APPLE SEEDS is a story infused with life, longing, and family. When Bertha, Iris’ grandmother, passes away Iris finds out she has inherited her house in the countryside. Iris plans on staying at the house for a week to help her decide what to do with the property, but things aren’t as simple as they appear. There are so many memories and secrets lurking in every room of the enchanted house waiting to be uncovered. Three generations of women have loved and lost in this house, filling the house with their tears, hopes, and dreams. While visually captivating, THE TASTE OF APPLE SEEDS seems to try too hard for the magical realism to truly blossom. Perhaps it’s an issue of “lost in translation”, but while I sensed so much potential it fell a little short. I enjoyed learning the history and secrets of Iris’ family, but there was a lack of a solid plot to drive the story along. THE TASTE OF APPLE SEEDS has the glimmer of magic and beauty and I look forward to more of the author’s writing to see it fully shine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    Beautifully worded!

    Just finished The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena. This short book is beautifully written. The word pictures evocative of a different time and place. The characters largely well developed and likeable for all their foibles. I would have loved to go on and on in their stories though.

    I found this book well worth reading. It's different from most recent fiction because of the care with which it is written. I found the details and wording brought me into the book somehow. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Will definitely look for more from this author.

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  • Posted March 2, 2014

    Iris is a young woman who has recently lost her grandmother and

    Iris is a young woman who has recently lost her grandmother and has now inherited the family home.  With a mother and two aunts who are quite possibly offended by her inheritance she moves into the house to learn about her heritage and figure out what she is going to do with the home.

    My main issue was this book was just generally hard to follow.  The story changed from past to present and it was had keeping all the characters straight and their relationships to one other in line.  I think the reason why this book didn't feel like it flowed was it is a translation.  I was unaware of this until after starting to read it, but I just couldn't keep up with the story and the characters.   

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