Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius
I'm sure many of you have noticed on various book blogs the reviews and news on Peirene publishers. This is exactly where I read about them too. Peirene specialise in translating short books written in mainland Europe into English. I bought the three first books they have published and while Chris was traumatised as a result of reading 'Beside The Sea', I decided to start with 'Portrait Of The Mother As A Young Woman'.
This is a very short book and only took me a day to read it and it follows a young German woman who is eight months pregnant, walking to a concert in Rome during the Second World War. This woman travelled to Rome to be with her husband, a German solider, who was almost immediately shipped off to Tunisia leaving this woman on her own in a strange city during war time. The book is really an account of her thoughts and the different memories that pop into her head and any conclusions she comes to. This woman is incredibly naïve so there is an absence of any clever insights into the war or any great revelations with regards to Germany's involvement, rather she is more pre-occupied with her baby, the return of her husband and how she hopes the war will end.
These are probably the same thoughts which occur to her almost everyday and indeed must have been similar to the thoughts of a lot of people during that time. Thinking about her husband and her baby and remembering her family back in Germany seems to help her become slightly more at peace with herself and her situation.
This book is set during a more peaceful time in Rome, before the bombs hit and before the allied invasion. I'm guessing that the author wanted to try to detail how an ordinary person living during this time would justify and come to terms with what was happening around them. While this is an interesting book, I did not find anything new or surprising in it.
Posted by Jess