The February book was A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins. It is an international best seller, but an unusual one: a quiet book and an elegy for a very solitary man.
The novel starts in 1902 in a small village in the Austrian Alps when farming was still axe and scythe, horse and cart. Andreas Egger arrives as a child, and lives his life in this village. Eventually progress comes to the valley, but there is a pervading sense of timelessness.
The book encapsulates the life of Andreas Egger, a man who seems hardened and impenetrable and untouched by emotions. However the novel is quietly enchanting and engaging with sparse poetic style that does not make a drama of his life. The narrator sums up the book where Andrea’s life is reflected as a hardworking, good humble survivor. Someone who did not believe in God and does not know where he came from or where he is going. A quote from the book “ He could look back without regret on the time in between, his life, with a full throated laugh and utter amazement”.
For such an imposing title, the book is only 150 pages, and Robert Seethaler has carved out a story made up of moments. The author has addressed what are the things that make up a life. Every life when you look back on it, reduces itself to a few moments.
Our bookclub had a very favourable opinion of A Whole Life, with comments such as “the novella is complex in its simplicity”, “ breathtakingly beautiful “. The length of the book considering what could have been a dull or even boring narration, is just right. One reader commented “ there is a message of acceptance and contentment”.
A favourite quote from the book is
“ Scars are like years, he said, one follows another and it’s all of them together that make a person who they are”.
Robert Seethaler was born in Austria and has written 5 novels, two have been translated into English, A Whole Life and The Tobacconist. A whole Life was nominated for Man Booker International Prize in 2016.
Ratings: Claudia 4.5, Denise 4, Di 3.5, Janet 4, Judith 3.5, Kim, Lynda, Margie and Pauline 4.
We will meet next on the 11/03/19 at 6:30PM at Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) to discuss Shell By Kristina Olsson.
Hope to see you all there and happy reading!
We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.
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