Vintage International

The Reader

Publisher: Vintage
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.


Chapter One

When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis. It started in the fall and lasted until spring. As the old year darkened and turned colder, I got weaker and weaker. Things didn't start to improve until the new year. January was warm, and my mother moved my bed out onto the balcony. I saw sky, sun, clouds,...
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"A formally beautiful, disturbing and finally morally devastating novel. From the first page, [The Reader] ensnares both heart and mind." —Los Angeles Times

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Bernhard...
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"A formally beautiful, disturbing and finally morally devastating novel." —Los Angeles Times"Moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful. . . . [The Reader] leaps national boundaries and speaks straight to the heart." —The New York Times Book Review"Arresting, philosophically elegant, morally complex. . . . Mr. Schlink tells his story with marvelous directness and simplicity." —The New York Times"Haunting. . . . What Schlink does best, what makes this novel most memorable, are the small moments of highly charged eroticism." —Francine Prose, Elle