Wednesday, January 29, 2014
THE TASTE OF APPLE SEEDS, KATHARINA HAGENA, translated by Jamie Bullock
This book set in Germany sometime after World War II is a different kind of story than I normally read. At first I fussed at how slowly it was progressing and at how little I knew about the narrator at the beginning. But gradually the characters began to draw me in until I couldn't have stopped reading the book if I had tried. This is a story for character lovers.
Iris, a librarian in Freiberg, has gone to Bootshaven where she spent childhood summers. This time she's there for her grandmother Bertha's funeral. The old lady had Alzheimer's disease for many years but still Iris, her aunts, her parents, and neighbors are very sad as they remember old times. Grandfather Hinnerk had died a long time ago. Memories of him are less happy.
When the lawyers, including her old friend Mira's little brother Max, read the will, Iris is surprised to learn that she has inherited Bertha's house. Actually the house is one of the main characters. I love houses that reflect a family's history. She spends several days finding clothes in dower chests upstairs and since she only brought a dress for the funeral, she wears them. Many are old ball gowns that she and her cousin Rosmarie along with Mira had played dress-up in. There is a mystery about Rosmarie. She had died 13 years ago, something about glass. It's all very foggy. Foggy too is what kind of person Rosmarie was.
Everything she wears , everywhere she goes riding her grandfather's bicycle, makes her think of one of the characters and we follow her inner thoughts. As pages go by we get to know each aunt, her parents, Mira, an aunt who died young, and the man who loved that young woman. Meanwhile, I was entertained at the silly getups she wore around town, her skinny dipping, and her conversations with Max.
If you would like to slow down and read a lovely story about a house and the people who have lived there, this is the book for you. I found it perfect for the frigid weather when I was house bound.
Source: William Morrow book tour