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Customer Review

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'We make our own truths and lies....Truths are often lies and lies truths...', January 21, 2008
This review is from: Homecoming: A novel (Hardcover)
Bernhard Schlink stunned the reading public with his brilliant novel 1999 THE READER and once again with HOMECOMING he proves he is one of our most important authors today. Written in German and translated by Michael Henry Heim, HOMECOMING addresses, as did THE READER, the prolonged impact of the WW II fall of Germany on the lives of those who survived it. Not only is this a gripping story of a deserted son's search for his mysterious father, it is also a treatise reflecting on the horrors of evil and challenges the responsibility of those who perpetrated it and those who 'allowed' or were victims of its perpetration. There is much profound philosophy in these pages, enough to make the reader stop, think, turn to other resources for references, and become transported by the mind of a truly gifted writer.

Peter DeBauer was raised by his distant mother who refused to inform him about his father, a mysterious man who apparently wrote novels edited and published by is own parents (Peter's paternal grandparents with whom he has an intense bond) yet 'disappeared' form his life to become involved in surviving the war by moving to Switzerland and eventually to America where he became established as a political science professor at Columbia University where, as John De Bauer, he became a highly regarded professor and mind manipulator. The story concerns Peter's quest for finding his father, a journey that places him in locations throughout Europe, seeking bits and fragments of information from anyone even slightly connected with the information he has about his father, finding solace and love from various women, and eventually results in his compulsive trip to New York to investigate the infamous John De Bauer, only to be caught up in a fascinating retreat in the frozen tundra of Upstate New York, learning the truth about his shadowy father. 'Sometimes I feel a longing for the Odysseus who learned the tricks and lies of the confidence man..., set out restless in the world, sought adventure and came out on top, won over my mother with his charm, and made up novels with great gusto and theories with playful levity. But I know it is not Johann Debauer or John De Baur I long for; it is the image I have made of my father and hung in my heart.'

The magic of reading Schlink's books is the discovery of a mixture of brilliant story development with indelibly rich characters and the sharing of philosophizing about death, murder, suicide, guilt, and history's influence on who we will become. 'At what degree of cold, hunger, pressure, or fear does the layer of civilization start to peel away?' Yes, other writers are dealing with the scars left on the German mind living in the aftermath of the atrocities of national guilt. But few do it so eloquently and with such brilliant skill as Bernhard Schlink. At novel's end, the reader is consumed with the desire to start the book all over again. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, January 08
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Comments

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2009 5:38:09 AM PDT
I like your first and last paragraphs very much -- and numerous people seem to have enjoyed the whole review. But don't you worry that the long middle paragraph gives away so much that the protagonist spends more than three-quarters of the book finding out?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2009 7:05:50 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 16, 2009 2:52:54 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2009 11:56:24 AM PDT
Roger and Ghost:
Not to forget the two priceless phrases regularly sent to Mr. Harp in bygone vote inflation days - "Oooooh! Grady!" and "Keep your pen hot!"

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2009 2:14:46 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 16, 2009 2:52:54 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2009 2:18:37 PM PDT
Ghost:
Re the pretty instant neg, another priceless phrase comes to mind - "Hi, Grady!!" :-))

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2011 8:36:45 PM PDT
You don't make sense. What are you talking about? Did you even read the book?

Posted on Apr 5, 2011 8:46:05 PM PDT
I enjoyed the book very much because of the story and the excellent writing. Lucy
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Grady Harp
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Los Angeles, CA United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 70