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The Post-Office Girl
By Stefan Zweig
Translated by Joel Rotenberg
This was another book recommended by the World Magazine and it was originally written in German. As many of you well know I’m interested in all things German, WWII, Holocaust, Jew, etc. This book doesn’t actually fill those joys, but it is slightly similar! It takes place in Austria after WWI.
The book was originally written in German by the Austrian-Jewish author and I was interested in reading this book since it was literature from another country. I’ve read some Spanish literature during my studies in the university, and thought it very odd from what I was used to. I know that US literature isn’t the best, but that there are different ways of writing and different countries have many different styles.
So those were some of my reasons for picking the book and reading it in the first place. I did feel like those reasons were fulfilled by reading this novel. It was an easy read and I quickly finished it. The setting wasn’t something I was familiar with nor was the perspective of living during that time period in Austria. I’m used to reading literature or novels from an American perspective of this particular time period.
All of the above I found very interesting. Now onto the content of the book…
Christine is a lonely poor postal worker in a small town in Austria. She lives her life day in and day out working and caring for her mother. She has other family around, but doesn’t see much of them. One day she gets a telegram from her wealthy aunt asking her to join her and her uncle on a holiday in the Swiss Alps.
She accepts and a whole new world is opened up to her. She never knew people could live like this. She quickly adapts and soon can’t imagine life without such finery. Money, fine clothing and accessories, men, popularity, beauty and so much more. Then without warning it is all over and her aunt sends her home and back to her old life.
Christine becomes angry and bitter and no longer finds contentment in anything. She thinks it doesn’t seem fair that others have, and she has not. She can’t figure out any way to change her life back to what it was for such a short time.
She happens to meet another young man Ferdinand who also thinks as she does. He is a WWI vet who has also received a poor lot in life. He grew up wealthy with want for nothing, but it was lost during the war. The two of them build a friendship of sorts, but they are both frustrated with that too.
The book takes a sudden turn at the very end. I won’t give it away, but it certainly isn’t tied up in a pretty little bow like most american novels are. This books leaves you wondering what they decide to do, how things work out. I like to know the end results, but I will say I’ve thought about this book more after finishing it than most. It stays in my mind….