Tuesday, 16 October 2007

The Seventh Gate - Richard Zimler

My brothers always used to tell me that it was weird watching comedy on TV with me because I never laugh when it's funny. I laugh a lot in real life, but I've always found a disconnect between finding something funny on TV or in a book, and actually laughing out loud. I also find this applies to finding something sad in a book and it making me cry, but when reading this book, especially the last 100 pages or so, I was in floods of tears.

Having read 'The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon' and been a bit confused I wasn't sure at all what to expect. This is a very different sort of story, though there are similar themes in both books, such as the mysteries that are central to both tales and looking at being Jewish in a time when that could mean death. Sophie, an Aryan teenager in 1930's Berlin, wants to be Jewish, while having to protect her 'distant' (possibly autistic?) mute brother. The conflicts her family have in their journey from being Communists to paid-up members of the Nazi party intensify this desire, and she begins a relationship that breaks nearly every taboo of the time. While the story grows in unexpected ways, the heart-breaking inevitabilities that loom through every page are tackled in particularly poignant matter-of-fact descriptions, painting realistic pictures of the horrors that ended so many lives. The ending to such a story could never be happy, but it seems balanced and the culmination of Sophie's lover's internal quest gives an interesting slant to factual events. One day, I'll read this again to take in more of the intricate layers, but when I do I'll be armed with a gigantic box of tissues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's been too long since you last posted...I like reading your blog, keep writing!

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