The Weekend

( 3 )

Overview

A provocative, haunting novel from the acclaimed author of The Reader.
 
Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart. They excavate old memories and pass clandestine judgments on the wildly divergent paths they’ve taken since their youth. But this isn’t just any reunion, and their conversations about the old days aren’t your typical reminiscences: After twenty-four years, Jörg, a ...

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The Weekend: A Novel

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Overview

A provocative, haunting novel from the acclaimed author of The Reader.
 
Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart. They excavate old memories and pass clandestine judgments on the wildly divergent paths they’ve taken since their youth. But this isn’t just any reunion, and their conversations about the old days aren’t your typical reminiscences: After twenty-four years, Jörg, a convicted murderer and terrorist, has been released from prison. The announcement of his pardon sends shock waves throughout the country, but before the announcement, his friends—some of whom were Baader-Meinhof sympathizers or those who clung to them—gather for his first weekend of freedom. They are invited by Jörg’s devoted sister, Christiane, whose overwhelming concern for her brother’s safety is matched only by the unrelenting pull of Marko, a unnervingly passionate young man intent on having Jörg continue to fight for the cause.
 
Bernhard Schlink is at his finest as The Weekend unfolds. Passions are pitted against pragmatism, ideas against actions, and hopes against heartbreaking realities.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Old friends cautiously reunite at an isolated German estate after one of them is released from prison in Schlink's (The Reader) meditative novel on the past's grip on the present and the possibility--or impossibility--of redemption. Convicted of quadruple murder and numerous acts of terrorism on behalf of the radical left, Jörg spent 24 years in prison before being unexpectedly pardoned. His sister, Christiane--whose obsessive concern for her brother's welfare has turned her into a borderline recluse--arranges a gathering to welcome Jörg back into society. Among those assembled are journalist Henner, whom Jörg believes betrayed him to the police; quiet Ilse, using the weekend to begin a novel about a common friend's alleged suicide; and Marko, a young revolutionary keen on convincing Jörg to use his newly earned freedom to speak out against the current government. Schlink avoids the easy route of condemnation and salvation, never lingering too long on Jörg's crimes--though the ties to the RAF aren't cloaked--and though the past is admirably handled (sketched in, but not overbearing), the book's real strength is the finely wrought dynamics among the characters, whose relationships and histories are fraught with a powerful sense of tension and possibly untoward potential. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Would you die for a cause? Would you killfor one? Jörg was willing to kill, going after capitalists and anyone else who got in his way back in Eighties Germany. Now, after 24 years in prison, he's being released. Is he contrite? Still a firebrand? In Schlink's probing new work, it's more complicated than that. Jörg's sister Christiane has planned a get-together with old friends at the country house she shares with Margarete—a welcome-home party for a murderer. There's Henner, whom Jörg suspects of having betrayed him; Ulrich, who baits Jörg and whose daughter tries to seduce him; Karin, now an irritatingly patient and loving minister; quiet Ilse, who's writing a fictional account about another member of their group; and assorted spouses. Enter Marko, a crafty young revolutionary who wants Jörg to rejoin the cause, and an anonymous visitor who turns out to have a shattering connection to Jörg. VERDICT Schlink (The Reader) deftly manages his characters' interlocking stories yet refuses to give readers an easy answer to the central dilemma: How are we supposed to feel about Jörg? That might frustrate some readers, but the ambiguity is realistic and the book itself a beautifully crafted and stimulating read. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/10.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews

A tight literary contrivance by the novelist best known forThe Reader(1997).

ImagineThe Big Chilltransplanted to the German countryside in the wake of 9/11 terrorism. As the title suggests, this narrative encompasses a single weekend, Friday through Sunday, which represents a reunion of those who were close (even lovers) during their university days, but who have seen their lives take significantly different paths. The impetus for the gathering is the pardon of Jörg, a convicted terrorist who has been imprisoned for more than two decades for the murder of at least four victims. His older sister, Christiane, has been like a mother to him (though some suspect a lover as well), and she has arranged for the gathering of former friends (and spouses and a few interlopers) to welcome her brother back to the world at the country house she shares with Margarete. Christiane and Margarete may or may not be lovers, though the romantic alliances that begin the novel are likely to shift before its end (or there would be no novel). Among the guests is a noted journalist who might be able to help Jörg make his case with the public. He was once Jörg's best friend, later (and briefly) became the lover of Christiane and is suspected by Jörg of the tip to authorities that led to his arrest. There is also a back story, a gathering from some 30 years earlier, at a funeral for a friend to them all who mysteriously committed suicide. At least one of the friends believes that the suicide was a fake, that the purported suicide was also a terrorist who may still be alive. She spends the weekend writing a novel within the novel concerning this possibility, constructing a narrative that "she couldn't research, but had to fantasize." Jörg finds himself in a tug of war between a younger radical who wants him to issue an unrepentant proclamation and a lawyer who wants Jörg to cut ties with his terrorist past.

Amid ongoing revelation, all narrative strands (and there are many) are tied neatly by the end.

Ruth Kluger
…[an] intelligent, stimulating novel…The integration of ideas and narrative detail may not always be fully successful in this tight little novel, but it is never trivial. At its best, Schlink, one of Germany's few internationally known authors, allows us a glimpse into the national sense of unease beneath the smooth surface of his country's culture.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
Praise for The Weekend
“Schlink avoids the easy route of condemnation and salvation . . . The book’s real strength is the finely wrought dynamic among the characters, whose relationships and histories are fraught with a powerful sense of tension and possibly untoward potential.”
—Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Reader
“Arresting, philosophically elegant, morally complex . . . Schlink tells this story with marvelous directness and simplicity, his writing stripped bare of any of the standard gimmicks of dramatization.”
 —The New York Times
 
“[A] beautiful, disturbing, and finally morally devastating novel. From the first page, The Reader ensnares both heart and mind.”
 —Los Angeles Times
 
Praise for Homecoming
“A beguilingly oblique novel . . . Despite its intricate, mazelike progression, Homecoming has surprising narrative thrust.”
 —The Economist
 
“Sensitive and disturbing . . . The reader’s mind opens to the story like a plant unfurling its leaves to the sun.”
 —The New York Times Book Review
 
Praise for Flights of Love
“An outstanding collection.”
 —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Intimate, smart, powerful . . . As memorable as The Reader . . . Dazzling.”
 —The Washington Post Book World

From the Hardcover edition.

The Barnes & Noble Review

From Brooke Allen's "READER'S DIARY" column on The Barnes & Noble Review

Bernhard Schlink is known as the author of elegant philosophical novels that examine facets of his native Germany's troubled history. But he is also a lawyer, has served as a judge, and frequently teaches classes in the philosophy of law in both Germany and the United States. Schlink particularly enjoys his work on the bench: "What I've loved," he has said, "is using all my theoretical, doctrinal, philosophical and historical knowledge, for the solution of a problem."

These are exactly the skills he brings to his fiction. The son of a theologian, Schlink was brought up to look at life as a series of moral problems. Historical events encouraged this natural propensity. At the time of the author's birth in 1944, German armies were facing imminent defeat across Europe, and the Nazi regime was self-destructing at home. Schlink's childhood was passed in the postwar miasma of guilt, horror, and recrimination: his 1995 novel The Reader, which has now become required reading in German schools, must surely stem from his memories of that period. The reuinification of Germany two decades ago reawakened many ghosts, as his book Homecoming (2006) demonstrates. And now Schlink has directed his attention to the 1970s, a time when many of his contemporaries turned to extreme leftist politics, and a radical few to terrorism.

The Weekend examines the moral legacy of that era, when the so-called Red Army Faction (better known outside of Germany as the Baader-Meinhof Group) killed a total of thirty-four people and in 1977 brought the country to a high pitch of fear. Jörg, The Weekend's central character, is supposed to have been associated with this group; he was eventually convicted on four counts of murder and consigned to prison, where he stayed for twenty-four years. As the story begins, Jörg, now in late middle age, has been released on a presidential pardon. This pardon is supposed to symbolize reconciliation, the closing of the door on that particular national trauma.

Jörg's sister Christiane has organized a weekend party to welcome him back to freedom. The guests, most of whom haven't seen each other since their student days, assemble obediently at Christiane's dilapidated manor house in the depths of the Brandenburg countryside. They have all left their radical pasts far behind. Karin has become a bishop in the Lutheran church. Ulrich owns and runs dental laboratories. Ilse, for many years a schoolteacher, has begun to write fiction. Andreas, the terrorists' lawyer, now represents more conventional clients. They all have a hard time understanding their youthful convictions, suspecting that even at the time their motivations were less than pure. Only Jörg appears unrepentant, ready if necessary to resume the armed struggle.

But how much of his apparent resolve is real and how much is due to mere vanity? This is what the others wonder as they watch Jörg preen in the adoring gaze of a young acolyte, Marko. Or is he simply stupid, ethically and intellectually incapable of feeling remorse for the four innocent lives he took? After all, it's not as if "the people's liberation struggle against imperialism and colonialism" put the slightest check on the actual progress of imperialism and colonialism. It was a futile effort whose futility lives on in Marko's idiotic rhetoric:

If we joined with our Muslim comrades we could really get things going. They with their power and we with what we know about this country -- together we could really strike where it hurts….You probably think September Eleventh was just some crazy Muslim affair. No, without September Eleventh none of the good things that have happened over the past few years would have happened. The new attentiveness to the Palestinians, still the key to peace in the Middle East, and to the Muslims, still a quarter of the world's population, the new sensitivity to the threats in the world, from the economic to the ecological, the realization that exploitation has a price that is always rising -- sometimes the world needs a shock to come to its senses.

Christiane's friend Margarete, new to the group, sees the "liberation struggle" in terms of pathology. "Listening to Christiane and her friends talk about the RAF and Germany's autumn of terror and the pardoning of terrorists, time and again Margarete had the sense of something sick, a subject in which people were talking about a sickness that had afflicted the terrorists back then and was now afflicting the speakers." Ilse, the most introverted member of the group, tries to work out its history through fiction. Traumatized by the sight of victims jumping from the burning World Trade Center, she writes a story in which an imagined RAF terrorist loses his own life in the Trade Center decades later.

It is left to Jörg's son Ferdinand, two years old at the time of his father's arrest and now an adult, to make the inevitable link between the ethos of Jörg's generation and that of the reviled Nazis, their parents.

       In the little town where I grew up, I would play cards in the pub with my friends every few weeks. One evening I learned that the five old men at the locals' table had all been in the SS. I sat down at the next table and pricked up my ears. Remember the time, remember the time -- it was like that all evening. Don't you remember the time we beat up the Jews in Wilna and shot the Poles in Warsaw, obviously, but: remember the time we drank champagne in Warsaw and fucked the Polish girls in Wilna. And remember the time the barber shaved the old men with the long beards, ha-ha? You're exactly the same. What about: remember the time you shot that woman during the bank robbery? Or the policeman at the border? Or the head of the bank? Or the association president?

Was the decision by the 1970s generation, then, to make a virtue of random violence an earnest reaction against the evil committed by their fathers a generation earlier? Or does it represent a curse passed from father to son, one that might only be exorcised from history with extreme difficulty?

There is no doubt where Schlink's own sympathies lie: he has devoted his life to the law, after all, and as one might expect, the unrepentant terrorist Jörg is a thoroughly repulsive character. Germany's "autumn of terror" might seem very distant now, but it continues to haunt Schlink's generation, with reason. Uli Edel's 2008 film The Baader-Meinhof Complex, a beautifully produced recreation of the gang and its deeds, failed in its central mission, which should have been to help us understand the real motivations behind the terrorists' formulaic rhetoric. Schlink doesn't entirely succeed here either, and perhaps there is no way that those of us not infected by what Margarete deems a "sickness" can ever really make sense of the violent and irrational ideology. But its toxic residue continues to poison German waters. Just this month a fifty-eight-year-old former Red Army Faction member, Verena Becker, has gone on trial for the shooting deaths of West Germany's top prosecutor and two others in 1977. Discussions like those around Christiane's dinner table are no doubt taking place all over Germany today.




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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307378156
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/12/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.08 (w) x 11.68 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

BERNHARD SCHLINK is the author of the internationally best-selling novel The Reader, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. He divides his time between Berlin and New York.

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Read an Excerpt

One
 
She got there just before seven. She’d expected to make more headway and arrive sooner by traveling in the early morning. When she hit more road construction, and yet more, she grew nervous. Would he walk through the gate, look out for her in vain, his first reac­tion one of disappointment, of discouragement? The sun rose in the rearview  mirror—she would rather have been driving  toward it than away from it, even if it had dazzled her.
 
She parked where she had always parked and walked the short path to the gate as slowly as she had always walked. Everything to do with her own life she cleared from her mind, to make room for him. He always had a firm place in her mind; not an hour passed without her wondering what he was doing right now, how he was getting on. But each time she met him, he alone existed for her. Now that his life was no longer in suspended animation, now that it was starting to move once more, he needed her full attention.
 
The old sandstone building stood in the sun. As so often before, she was strangely moved that a building should serve such an ugly purpose and at the same time be so beautiful: the walls covered with Virginia creeper, field and forest green in spring and summer, yellow and red in autumn, the small towers on the corners and the large one in the middle, its windows like those of a church, the heavy gate, forbidding, as if it wished not to shut the inhabitants in but to shut their enemies out. She looked at the clock. The people in there liked to keep you waiting. She had often applied in vain for a two-hour visit, and after the hour granted, was simply not collected but went on sitting with him for another half hour, three quarters of an hour, without  really being with him any longer.
 
But when the bells of the nearby church began to strike seven, the gate opened and he stepped out and blinked into the sun. She crossed the street and embraced him. She embraced him before he could set down his two big bags, and he stood in her embrace without returning it. “At last,” she said, “at last.”
 
“Let me drive,” he said as they stood by the car, “I’ve dreamed of it so many times.”
 
“Are you sure? Cars have got faster, the traffic’s heavier.”
 
He insisted, and kept driving even when the sweat stood out on his brow. She sat tensely next to him and said nothing when he made mistakes turning in the city and overtaking on the autobahn. Until they passed a sign for a service station and she said, “I need some breakfast, I’ve been up for five hours.”
 
She had visited him in prison every two weeks. But when he walked along the counter with her, filled his tray, stood at the till, came back from the toilet and sat down facing her, she felt as if she were seeing him for the first time in ages. She saw how old he had become, older than she had noticed or admitted during her visits.
 
At first glance he was still a handsome man, tall, square face, bright green eyes, thick salt- and- pepper hair. But his poor posture emphasized his little paunch, which didn’t match his thin arms and legs, his gait was slow, his face gray, and the wrinkles that crisscrossed his fore­head, and were steep and long in his cheeks, indicated not concentration so much as a vague sense of strain. And when he spoke—she was startled by the awkward­ness and hesitancy with which he responded to what she said, and the random, jittery hand movements with which he emphasized his words. How could she have failed to notice that on her visits? What else was hap­pening, in him and to him, that she had also failed to notice?
 
“Are we going to your place?”
 
“We’re going to the country for the weekend. Mar­garete and I have bought a house in Brandenburg, run­down, no heating, no electricity, and the only water comes from the pump outside, but it’s got a big, old park. It’s gorgeous now, in the summer.”
 
“How do you cook?”
 
She laughed. “Are you interested in that? With great fat red gas canisters. I’ve ordered an extra two for the weekend; I’ve invited our old friends.”
 
She’d hoped he’d be pleased. But he showed no pleasure. He only asked: “Who?”
 
She had thought long and hard. Which old friends would do him good, which would only make him embarrassed or reserved? He needs to be among people, she thought. And more than that, he needs help. Who will he get that from, if not his old friends? Finally she decided that the ones who were pleased she had called, the ones who wanted to come, were also the right ones. In some of those who made excuses she sensed honest regret; they would have liked to be there if they’d known about it earlier, if they hadn’t already made other plans. But what was she to do? His release had come as a surprise.
 
“Henner, Ilse, Ulrich with his second wife and their daughter, Karin with her husband, Andreas, of course. With you, Margarete and me that’s eleven.”
 
“Marko Hahn?”
 
“Who?”
 
“You know the one—for a long time he just wrote to me. He visited me for the first time four years ago and he’s been a regular visitor ever since. Apart from you he’s ...”
 
“You mean that lunatic who nearly cost you your reprieve?”
 
“He only did as I asked. I wrote the welcoming speech, I knew who the addressees were, what the occa­sion was. You have nothing to reproach him for.”
 
“You couldn’t have known what you were doing. He did know, and he didn’t try to stop you, he just rode on into it. He uses you.” She was as furious now as she had been that morning, reading in the paper that he had written the welcoming address for an obscure left- wing conference on the theme of violence. His actions, the paper said, had revealed his incapacity for insight and remorse—such a person didn’t deserve to be reprieved.
 
“I’ll give him a call and invite him.” He got up, looked for and found some coins in his trouser pocket and walked to the phone. She got up too, was about to run after him and stop him, then sat back down again. When she saw he didn’t know where to take the conversation, she got back up, walked over to him, took the receiver and described the route to her house. He put his arm around her, and it felt so good that she was reconciled.
 
When they drove on, she was at the wheel. After a while he asked, “Why didn’t you invite my son?”
 
“I called him and he just put the phone down. Then I wrote him a letter.” She shrugged. “I knew you’d want him to be there. I also knew he wouldn’t come. He decided against you a long time ago.”
 
“That wasn’t him. That was them.”
 
“What difference does it make? He’s become the person they brought up.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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First Chapter

The Weekend

A Novel
By Bernhard Schlink

Pantheon

Copyright © 2010 Bernhard Schlink
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307378156

One
 
She got there just before seven. She’d expected to make more headway and arrive sooner by traveling in the early morning. When she hit more road construction, and yet more, she grew nervous. Would he walk through the gate, look out for her in vain, his first reac­tion one of disappointment, of discouragement? The sun rose in the rearview  mirror—she would rather have been driving  toward it than away from it, even if it had dazzled her.
 
She parked where she had always parked and walked the short path to the gate as slowly as she had always walked. Everything to do with her own life she cleared from her mind, to make room for him. He always had a firm place in her mind; not an hour passed without her wondering what he was doing right now, how he was getting on. But each time she met him, he alone existed for her. Now that his life was no longer in suspended animation, now that it was starting to move once more, he needed her full attention.
 
The old sandstone building stood in the sun. As so often before, she was strangely moved that a building should serve such an ugly purpose and at the same time be so beautiful: the walls covered with Virginia creeper, field and forest green in spring and summer, yellow and red in autumn, the small towers on the corners and the large one in the middle, its windows like those of a church, the heavy gate, forbidding, as if it wished not to shut the inhabitants in but to shut their enemies out. She looked at the clock. The people in there liked to keep you waiting. She had often applied in vain for a two-hour visit, and after the hour granted, was simply not collected but went on sitting with him for another half hour, three quarters of an hour, without  really being with him any longer.
 
But when the bells of the nearby church began to strike seven, the gate opened and he stepped out and blinked into the sun. She crossed the street and embraced him. She embraced him before he could set down his two big bags, and he stood in her embrace without returning it. “At last,” she said, “at last.”
 
“Let me drive,” he said as they stood by the car, “I’ve dreamed of it so many times.”
 
“Are you sure? Cars have got faster, the traffic’s heavier.”
 
He insisted, and kept driving even when the sweat stood out on his brow. She sat tensely next to him and said nothing when he made mistakes turning in the city and overtaking on the autobahn. Until they passed a sign for a service station and she said, “I need some breakfast, I’ve been up for five hours.”
 
She had visited him in prison every two weeks. But when he walked along the counter with her, filled his tray, stood at the till, came back from the toilet and sat down facing her, she felt as if she were seeing him for the first time in ages. She saw how old he had become, older than she had noticed or admitted during her visits.
 
At first glance he was still a handsome man, tall, square face, bright green eyes, thick salt- and- pepper hair. But his poor posture emphasized his little paunch, which didn’t match his thin arms and legs, his gait was slow, his face gray, and the wrinkles that crisscrossed his fore­head, and were steep and long in his cheeks, indicated not concentration so much as a vague sense of strain. And when he spoke—she was startled by the awkward­ness and hesitancy with which he responded to what she said, and the random, jittery hand movements with which he emphasized his words. How could she have failed to notice that on her visits? What else was hap­pening, in him and to him, that she had also failed to notice?
 
“Are we going to your place?”
 
“We’re going to the country for the weekend. Mar­garete and I have bought a house in Brandenburg, run­down, no heating, no electricity, and the only water comes from the pump outside, but it’s got a big, old park. It’s gorgeous now, in the summer.”
 
“How do you cook?”
 
She laughed. “Are you interested in that? With great fat red gas canisters. I’ve ordered an extra two for the weekend; I’ve invited our old friends.”
 
She’d hoped he’d be pleased. But he showed no pleasure. He only asked: “Who?”
 
She had thought long and hard. Which old friends would do him good, which would only make him embarrassed or reserved? He needs to be among people, she thought. And more than that, he needs help. Who will he get that from, if not his old friends? Finally she decided that the ones who were pleased she had called, the ones who wanted to come, were also the right ones. In some of those who made excuses she sensed honest regret; they would have liked to be there if they’d known about it earlier, if they hadn’t already made other plans. But what was she to do? His release had come as a surprise.
 
“Henner, Ilse, Ulrich with his second wife and their daughter, Karin with her husband, Andreas, of course. With you, Margarete and me that’s eleven.”
 
“Marko Hahn?”
 
“Who?”
 
“You know the one—for a long time he just wrote to me. He visited me for the first time four years ago and he’s been a regular visitor ever since. Apart from you he’s ...”
 
“You mean that lunatic who nearly cost you your reprieve?”
 
“He only did as I asked. I wrote the welcoming speech, I knew who the addressees were, what the occa­sion was. You have nothing to reproach him for.”
 
“You couldn’t have known what you were doing. He did know, and he didn’t try to stop you, he just rode on into it. He uses you.” She was as furious now as she had been that morning, reading in the paper that he had written the welcoming address for an obscure left- wing conference on the theme of violence. His actions, the paper said, had revealed his incapacity for insight and remorse—such a person didn’t deserve to be reprieved.
 
“I’ll give him a call and invite him.” He got up, looked for and found some coins in his trouser pocket and walked to the phone. She got up too, was about to run after him and stop him, then sat back down again. When she saw he didn’t know where to take the conversation, she got back up, walked over to him, took the receiver and described the route to her house. He put his arm around her, and it felt so good that she was reconciled.
 
When they drove on, she was at the wheel. After a while he asked, “Why didn’t you invite my son?”
 
“I called him and he just put the phone down. Then I wrote him a letter.” She shrugged. “I knew you’d want him to be there. I also knew he wouldn’t come. He decided against you a long time ago.”
 
“That wasn’t him. That was them.”
 
“What difference does it make? He’s become the person they brought up.”



Continues...

Excerpted from The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink Copyright © 2010 by Bernhard Schlink. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The book opens with Christiane picking Jörg up from the prison entrance.  His sister has visited him every two weeks for the last twenty-four years, yet their first meeting is tense and restrained. Do you think Jörg is concerned about the way people are going to see him, or is it simply dealing with the feeling of freedom?

2. Although there are others present when Henner arrives at the estate, he is the first of Jörg’s friends to be introduced.  Do you think Henner’s profession as a journalist makes him more objective when looking at Jörg’s life?

3. During the first meal at which everyone is gathered, Ulrich is particularly harsh toward Jörg.  While everyone else is making polite conversation, Ulrich wants to know, “What was the worst thing about jail?” When people object to Ulrich’s questions, he defends himself by saying, “Why shouldn’t I ask him about his life? He chose it—just as you chose yours and I chose mine.” Do you think Ulrich is correct?  Do we have so much choice in life?

4. Ilse’s writings about Jan are a parallel plot to the main story.  She seems to be trying to grant herself closure by giving Jan’s life meaning. How do you feel about her suggesting Jan had something to do with 9/11, and still giving him an emancipating end?

5. Ulrich’s daughter, Dorle, makes a big scene near the beginning of the book, but she was not one of Jörg’s friends, and seems to completely change after her initial commotion. How does the character of Dorle fit with the rest of the characters, and why do you think the author included her?

6. Jörg’s son, Ferdinand, arrives late to the gathering.  He and his father haven’t been in contact, and Christiane says, “He’s become the person they brought up.” Yet Ferdinand does come for the weekend, despite his feelings about his father’s past.  Do you think Jörg and Ferdinand will have a relationship afterwards?

7. Christiane has had a relationship with Henner and Margarete, but her real love is for her brother.  Do you think Henner and Margarete are attracted to each other in spite of Christiane, or because of her? Has so much time passed for all of them that the past relationships don’t matter anymore?

8. Marko Hahn believes that Jörg can still live as a symbol to the revolutionary cause.  Christiane believes Jörg can change his life and become something separate from his past.  Andreas just wants to keep his friend out of public dealings.  Do you think any of these things are possible?

9. Karin, as the vicar, tries to keep peace among the parties, but even she is torn by memories of what the friends did in their youth in the name of revolution, of passion and belief in truth.  Is it moral responsibility that has changed their beliefs, or, as Marko claims, complacency in life?

10. Jörg claims that he doesn’t remember the murders he committed, and several of the others seem to have forgotten the details of what happened twenty-five years before.  Do you think it is possible to thoroughly block out the details of such terrible events?  Do you think, from the victim’s standpoint, it is acceptable to let them be forgotten?

11. It is revealed that Christiane was the one who led police to Jörg, because she wanted to protect him.  Marko seems more angry about this betrayal than Jörg himself.  What do you think about Christiane’s act?

12. Jörg claims he has paid enough for the murders, but his son disagrees. “You haven’t paid for what you did—you’ve forgiven yourself for it.  Presumably even before you did it.  But only the others can forgive you. And they don’t.”  Jörg killed in the name of the revolution, but his son sees the individuals that were affected.  Is killing in the name of truth ever acceptable?

13. What do you think of Jörg’s revelation at the end?  Do you feel sorry for him?  Do you think he has paid for what he has done?

14. Looking back at your own life, was there a cause that you felt passionately about that you barely remember now?  Why did you let that cause go?  How do you feel about it now?

15. How do you think the characters will be changed by the weekend? Who do you think will be most affected?

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 1, 2010

    A vivid novel--thought provoking

    This was an outstanding read. The tale takes several interesting turns that were like the subject matter itself, a bit clandestine. The vivid description of the setting made feel as though I were sitting at a Pond I am familiar with in Sulzbach-Rosenberg. A pond from my youth. The story takes one from the idealism of youth, to the comprimises of middle of age and finally the pragmatism of wisdom. This book made me feel the angst and conflict of the journey. I cannot wait to read more by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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