Olga A novel

Bernhard Schlink

Book - 2021

"Abandoned by her parents, Olga is raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village around the turn of the 20th century. Smart and precocious, endearing but uncompromising, she fights against the prejudices of the time to find her place in a world that sees women as second-best. When Olga falls in love with Herbert, a local aristocrat obsessed with gaining all the power, glory and greatness the modern age can provide, her life is irremediably changed. Their love goes against all odds and enc...ounters many obstacles, entwined with the twisting paths of German history, leading us from the late 19th to the early 21st century, from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, from the Baltic Sea to the German south-west. Unfolding across centuries, Olga is an epic romance, and a wrenching tale of devotion to a restless man in a fateful moment of great rebellion. Though Olga lives her life within the margins of others, her magnetic presence breathes vivid life into these pages. Told in three distinct parts-which brilliantly shift from different points of view to the epistolary form-Schlink paints a full portrait of a singular woman's complex life"--

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Subjects
Genres
Love stories
Historical fiction
Romance fiction
Published
New York, NY : HarperVia 2021.
Edition
First HarperVia edition
Language
English
German
Item Description
"Originally published as Olga in Germany in 2018 by Diogenes Verlag."
Physical Description
277 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780063112926
0063112922
Main Author
Bernhard Schlink (author)
Other Authors
Charlotte Collins, 1967- (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Orphaned and sent to live with a cruel grandmother in Prussia, Slavic Olga finds succor with Herbert and his sister Viktoria, aristocratic children. Olga and Herbert, both odd in their own way, fall in love as teenagers. As they near adulthood, Viktoria arranges for Olga to teach in a backwater village. Herbert's parents disapprove of a marriage to Olga, and he leaves, exploring far-flung places like German South West Africa, where he falls in love with the great expanse. His taste for adventure draws him eventually to the Arctic. This constitutes the first part of Schlink's book. Part two focuses on Olga's later years, which are told through her young friend, Ferdinand. The final third of the novel is epistolary. Olga's undelivered letters to Herbert in the Arctic reveal several secrets, one of which leads to Olga's death. Two world wars and the passage of more than a century do not overshadow Schlink's (The Woman on the Stairs, 2017) story of lovers who never fully belong to each other, just as they never fully belonged to the world. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In the early 1900s, Olga is raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village after her parents abandon her and comes to resent the restrictions placed on her because of gender and class, too—she boldly falls for Herbert, the son of a local aristocrat. As Herbert satisfies his hunger for adventure, the novel moves from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, all the way up to the 21st century. Throughout, Olga stays constant in her love. From the author of the internationally best-selling The Reader; with a 40,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Schlink (The Reader) returns with a nuanced portrait of an ordinary German woman who comes of age at the turn of the 20th century. Orphaned as a young girl, Olga Rinke is taken in reluctantly by her chilly paternal grandmother in Prussia. She becomes friends with Herbert Schroder, and by the time they're in secondary school, she falls in love with him. Olga becomes a teacher and Herbert joins the army, serving in the Battle of Waterberg in 1904 Africa, and in 1914 he sets off to explore the Arctic. Olga continues teaching through both world wars, and in her 60s, at the end of WWII, she flees eastern Germany for Heidelberg, where she takes up work as a seamstress and befriends Ferdinand, the young son of the primary family for whom she works. In the 1950s, Olga supports Ferdinand's teen rebellion—he reads Brecht and wears American-style blue jeans—and she tells him stories about Herbert's adventures. The final section features passionate, undelivered letters Olga wrote to Herbert decades earlier, while he was off in the Arctic. While the two big reveals in the final section are strongly telegraphed, the more quotidien mysteries of Olga's life will keep readers engaged. Readers who love rich character studies will want to pick this up. (Sept.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Abandoned by her parents, Olga is raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village around the turn of the 20th century. Smart and precocious, endearing but uncompromising, she fights against the prejudices of the time to find her place in a world that sees women as second-best. When Olga falls in love with Herbert, a local aristocrat obsessed with gaining all the power, glory and greatness the modern age can provide, her life is irremediably changed. Their love goes against all odds and encounters many obstacles, entwined with the twisting paths of German history, leading us from the late 19th to the early 21st century, from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, from the Baltic Sea to the German south-west. Unfolding across centuries, Olga is an epic romance, and a wrenching tale of devotion to a restless man in a fateful moment of great rebellion. Though Olga lives her life within the margins of others, her magnetic presence breathes vivid life into these pages. Told in three distinct parts-which brilliantly shift from different points of view to the epistolary form-Schlink paints a full portrait of a singular woman's complex life"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Unfolding across decades—from the late 19th to the early 21st century—and across continents, this epic romance follows Olga and her love and devotion to a restless man in an age of constant change. 40,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“Two world wars and the passage of more than a century do not overshadow [Bernhard Schlink’s] story of lovers who never fully belong to each other, just as they never fully belonged to the world.”—Booklist“A brilliant novel about history and the nature of memory.”—Evening StandardA sweeping novel of love and passion from author of the international bestseller The Reader about a woman out of step with her time, whose life is witness to some of the most tumultuous events of modern age.Abandoned by her parents, young Olga is raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village in the early years of the twentieth century. Smart and precocious, endearing but uncompromising, she fights against ingrained chauvinism to find her place in a world run by lesser men.When Olga falls in love with her neighbor, Herbert, the son of a local aristocrat, her life is irremediably changed. While Herbert indulges his thirst for exploration and adventure, Olga is limited by her gender and circumstance. Her love for Herbert goes against all odds and encounters many obstacles, but even when they are separated, it enduresUnfolding across decades—from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century—and across continents—from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, from the Baltic Sea to the German south-west—Olga is an epic romance, and a wrenching tale of a woman’s devotion to a restless man in an age of constant change. Though Olga exists in the shadows of others, she pursues life to the fullest and her magnetic presence shines—revealing a woman complex, fascinating, and unforgettable. Told in three distinct parts, brilliantly shifting from different points of view and narrative formats, Bernhard Schlink’s magnificent novel is a rich, full portrait of a singular woman and her world.Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins